Did The (Black) Buck Get Passed To Salman Khan?
There are many stories doing the ‘rounds that SALMAN KHAN perhaps is not the real culprit who shot those endangered two black bucks. Sumita Chakraborty delves closer to find out what the truth really is.
It happened one moonless night in 1998 on the outdoor sets in Rajasthan of Sooraj Barjatya’s film Hum Saath Saath Hain. The lead actors – Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam decided to do a HumSaath SaathHain and have a tryst with the wildlife in Rajasthan. End result: two black bucks shot dead - the black bucks incidentally are considered Grade One animals according to the Wildlife Protection Act as they are a highly endangered species. …And all fingers pointed to the self-confessed ‘bad boy’ of the film industry Salman Khan who was arguably the most controversial figure in Bollywood then. Salman was arrested and he spent 18 days in a Jodhpur jail at that point. He was out on bail after that but the legal entanglements continued till…
20 years later: Salman Khan is convicted to a term of five years by a Jodhpur Court while the other stars Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam involved in the hunt, are acquitted. Salman, after spending two days in jail, gets bail in the midst of high voltage drama that included the transfer of the judge in session. End of story?
Not really…. Veteran actor and TV host Simi Garewal stirred the hornet’s nest by tweeting: “Of one thing I am dead sure Salman Khan would NEVER EVER harm any animal. He loves them too much. The real culprit should be exposed. 20 years is too long to bear someone else’s cross.” And very close at heel, respected journalist and author Bharathi Pradhan tweeted: “Wonder if someone’s sleeping well tonight knowing that Salman Khan is spending the night in jail when the whisper is that someone else pulled the trigger. Samajh gaye, na?” These two tweets suddenly brought the 20-year-old case into the spotlight again. Was there more to this case than that meets the eye? Many years ago, Salman Khan himself gave an interview to Koel Purie, India Today’s Aroon Purie’s daughter wherein he said, “I didn’t do it!” but would not say anything more than that. Of course, the world didn’t really pay heed to his words. After all, Salman Khan was controversy’s fave child so obviously, he would be the fall guy, right? But after Salman Khan’s conviction last month, the ‘shush’ed whispers became more and more vociferous. Many websites including Pinkvilla actually stated that, “According to an eye-witness, Tabu had provoked Salman Khan to shoot the black buck. And supposedly, Sonali Bendre too was a part of it but it was Tabu who had supposedly egged him on.” So why hasn’t Salman said anything about this? But of course, “egging and provoking” does not constitute to shooting two hapless black bucks. But then again, some more stories started doing the rounds which TV channels lapped up almost immediately that perhaps Salman Khan was not the real culprit who pulled the trigger. According to a source, Salman Khan, two decades back, was revelling in his ‘bad boy James Dean rebel without a cause’ image. So supposedly, after the incident, he had allegedly announced to his ‘partners in crime’ that since he was already dubbed as the bad boy by the media, he might as well shoulder the blame for the incident. The other stars, according to the
One thing I’m dead sure is that Salman Khan would never harm animals.The real culprit should be exposed.” —Simi Garewal
same source, were pretty quick to take up his offer, after all, a scapegoat was being offered on a platter, it would be rather foolish to say ‘no’! And allegedly, the story that night narrated was very different from what happened. Mark Manuel, another veteran journalist, put up on his Facebook page: “I know who shot the black bucks. But I am not telling. And I am not telling because Salman Khan won’t. He’s taking a bum rap for something that happened 20 years ago. To which he was party. But is not guilty of. Sometimes we do things in the heat of the moment based on our emotions more than reason or logic. That’s what Salman did. He acted in the manner he thought was best. He was not just the biggest star of the ‘ Hum Saath Saath Hain’ cast on the hunt at Bhawad in Jodhpur that September night in 1998, but also the star with the largest heart. He took the blame. Heroically maybe, but also unwisely. Now it has come to bite him in the pants.” Mark further goes on to say, “Happily nobody, not his fans and not the film industry, believes he is guilty. Only the courts in Jodhpur do. If the hunt had happened last week, and Salman was 52, far more mature and understanding of the ugly ways of the world and its dirty people than he was at 32, would he have said he gunned down the endangered species worshipped by the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan if he had not pulled the trigger? Yes, he would. …And I know that in 20 years, he has only become more generous and large-hearted than he was before. He is man enough to take the sentence. But to carry the guilt of this charge and live with condemnation must be eating him up. Yet for 20 years, during the trial in which he was accused under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and Arms Act of 1959, he did not say a word. That leaves the person who shot the black bucks. In 20 years, this person too never said a word. Is it likely that this person will now step forward, accept responsibility, and save Salman Khan from going to jail? No. That happens only in Bollywood. And ironically, though the hunters of this poaching incident were a Bollywood cast, there was only one hero among them.” So did somebody from the motley group of five smartly ‘pass the buck’ literally to Salman Khan? Nobody knows… And unless Salman Khan opens his mouth and clarifies his position, nobody will. …Or if perhaps the ‘real’ culprit (if there is one), can stop passing the buck and would own up, perhaps the truth will come out in the open. But for now, the buck has been passed on to Bhai jaan, and he has to pay for the consequences of his actions…
The other stars, supposedly, were pretty quick to take up Salman’s offer, after all, a scapegoat was being offered on a platter, it would be rather foolish to say ‘no’!