District and Sessions Court Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi on Friday adjourned Bollywood star Salman Khan’s bail hearing in a 1998 blackbuck poaching case to Saturday. Joshi told the media here that he has reserved the judgment till April 7, which means, Salman Khan will have to spend yet another night in prison. Pronouncing the verdict in the 20-year-old case, another court in Jodhpur had on Thursday convicted the actor and sentenced him to five years in jail. The other co-accused in the case — Tabu, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam — meanwhile, were cleared of all charges. Additonally, a penalty of Rs 10,000 was also imposed on Khan.
The actor is accused of killing two blackbucks in the Kankani village near Jodhpur in 1998 during the shooting of the film Hum Saath Saath Hain.
He was charged under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and others under Section 51 read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code. With this, the Sword of Damocles now hangs over Salman Khan’s ongoing projects. He is slated to star in four major films over the next two years — Race 3, Dabangg 3, Kick 2 and Bharat. While the last three are in pre-production stages, Race 3 is in production in the UAE. Trade analysts said the Rs 4-5 billion riding on these films might be affected by his sentencing. Amid tight security, Salman was taken to the Jodhpur Central Jail where he spent the night in barrack number one. The prison also houses rape-accused Asaram Bapu, Bhanwari Devi murder accused Malkhan Singh Vishnoi, and Shambhu Lal Regar, arrested for killing a Muslim and blatantly filming the act.
Here are top 10 developments related to the 1998 Salman Khan Blackbuck poaching case in which Khan has been sentenced to 5 years in jail and other co-accused have been acquitted:
What happened in court today:
Salman Khan’s bail order reserved for Saturday: The Jodhpur Session court will announce its decision at 10:30 am tomorrow.
Statements against Salman Khan false: During the hearing, Salman’s counsel argued that the witnesses’ statements were not reliable and had discrepancies. To this, the public prosecutor retorted that the counsel must then prove these statements wrong.
1. Salman Khan’s bail hearing underway: While Salman Khan fans gathered outside Jodhpur Session court, his lawyer stepped into the room where his fate will be declared. Salman Khan had to spend the night in Jodhpur Central jail after being held guilty in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case on Thursday, but Friday might be a better day for him. His lawyer Hastimal Saraswat is ready with a 51-page bail application, where 54 grounds have been raised for the judge to consider and grant the convicted actor bail. Speaking to a news channel, he said: “If it was not Salman Khan, bail would have been granted the next day.
2. Key witness did not identify Tabu, Sonali Bendre in court: A crucial eyewitness failed to recognise Tabu and Sonali Bendre while being grilled by their lawyer. As for Saif Ali Khan, the witness testimony indicated his presence in the front seat of the vehicle. However, there was no evidence to prove that he instigated Salman to fire at the Blackbucks.
3. Salman Khan gets death threat from local gangster: A Punjab-based gangster, Lawrence Bishnoi, on Friday threatened to kill Bollywood actor Salman Khan.
The notorious gangster was brought to a Jodhpur local court on production warrant. While being taken into the police vehicle, Bishnoi said he would kill Khan in Jodhpur itself. On the reported threat to Khan by the gangster, Jail superintendent Vikram Singh said: We are thinking of keeping him with some other prisoners from tomorrow so that he is not alone considering the threat to him.”
Jodhpur police had arrested Bishnoi for his involvement in twin cases of firing. He was again arrested by the police for his involvement in the murder of Vasudev Israni, an electronic businessman from the city.
As per the Jodhpur DIG (Jail) Vikram Singh, multiple layers of security have been put in place for the actor in the jail, and he has been lodged in a separate barrack.
“Salman Khan has been given number 106 and is lodged in ward number 2. He was made to undergo a medical test and has no medical issues. He has not made any demands. We will give him jail uniform tomorrow. Multiple-layer security has been put up for his ward,” the DIG said on Thursday, hours after he was taken to jail following his conviction in the case. The DIG said the actor was served with chana dal (split chickpeas), cabbage, and chapati (flat bread) for the meal. He will have to sleep on the floor of the jail like other prisoners.
Salman Khan’s cell adjacent to Asaram’s: Jodhpur Central jail also houses the infamous self-styled godman Asaram, accused of rape. Salman Khan has been kept in ward no 2, adjacent to Asaram’s ward.
Salman Khan refused jail food: Salman Khan was served dal-roti for dinner, but he refused to eat, according to PTI. He didn’t call for food from outside, either.
5. Salman Khan’s Rs 5-bn films hang in the balance after sentencing: Salman Khan, sultan of the Rs 1 billion box-office club, might just be dethroned. He is slated to star in four major films over the next two years — Race 3, Dabangg 3, Kick 2 and Bharat. While the last three are in pre-production stages, Race 3 is in production in the UAE. Trade analysts said Rs 4-5 billion is riding on these films, which might be affected by his sentencing.
Khan has starred in some of Bollywood’s most successful films, the latest being Tiger Zinda Hai (2017), which made Rs 3.39 billion in India.
“It is too early to say if the projects will be shelved or whether Salman (Khan) will be replaced with another actor. If he gets bail and is allowed to finish the immediate projects, then at least Race 3 will release on the announced date,” said a trade analyst.
6. Animal rights activists welcome Salman conviction: Animal right groups on Thursday welcomed the sentencing of Bollywood star Salman Khan in a 1998 blackbuck killing case, asserting the verdict proved no one was above the law, while a section of activists said the actor should have been given the maximum punishment under the Wildlife Act.”The verdict shows, whether you are Salman Khan or an ordinary citizen, the facts will be heard by a court and the law will prevail,” PETA India spokesperson Sachin Bangera said. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), People For Animals (PFA), Wildlife SOS and Humane Society were among the groups that welcomed the verdict.
7. Salman convicted because he’s a Muslim, said Pak FM: Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif linked the sentencing of Salman Khan in the blackbuck case with the actor’s religion and said he has been sentenced “because he’s a minority”. In an interview with Hamid Mir of Pakistan’s Geo TV, Asif said, “Salman Khan has been sentenced because he’s a minority. To sentence him in a case that is twenty years old goes on to show that lives of those who are Muslims, ‘untouchables’ or Christians are not valued in India.” “Maybe if he belonged to the religion of the ruling party of India he would not have been given such a harsh sentence and the court might have been lenient with him,” he claimed.
8. Pak minister trolled for giving communal colour to Salman’s conviction: Twitterers were up in arms on Thursday after Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif linked the sentencing of Salman Khan in the blackbuck case with the actor’s religion and said he has been sentenced “because he’s a minority”.
A user asked that actor Saif Ali Khan, who has been acquitted in the blackbuck case, has been let off, since he was a Hindu?
“And Saif Ali Khan let off because he’s Hindu?,” the user wrote on Twitter.
Another Twitterer cited the name of Sanjay Dutt, who was convicted in the 1993 Mumbai blast case for possessing illegal weapons.
“What about Sanjay Dutt?,” the second user tweeted.
A third person lambasted the comments of Asif on Salman, saying that a country’s defence minister should not give such statements.
“Haha ??, we can say but defence minister can’t give such statement. I thought I am only fool here in tweeter. Thank you ?? sir,” the user wrote on the micro-blogging site.
Continuing the tirade against Asif, a Twitterer questioned the ban of Salman’s hit movies – ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ and its sequel ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ by the Pakistan government and slammed Asif’s comments on the actor.
9. Salman’s fourth stint at Jodhpur Central Jail begins: Jail sources said Salman was lodged in barrack number 2 in a heavily protected and secure cell. He would have to spend at least one night in the jail until his bail hearing tomorrow. This is Salman’s fourth stint in the Jodhpur Central Jail, which also houses religious preacher Asaram Bapu, who has been accused of rape. He had earlier spent a total of 18 days in the jail in 1998, 2006, and 2007, all for cases of poaching.
10. Salman Khan’s lawyer said the actor preferred an appeal to sessions court: “Also, in the present case, the Hon’ble Court has acquitted all the five co-accused, which would imply that Salman was out hunting alone in the middle of the night in a remote area outside Jodhpur. We have preferred an appeal to the Hon’ble Sessions Court and applied for an urgent hearing today,” he added. According to Desai, the sessions court will hear the appeal for suspension of the sentence/bail at 10.30 am on Friday.
‘Salman targeted for his star status’: The Hindi film industry erupted with outrage and concern as Salman Khan was on Thursday sentenced to five years in jail for killing endangered blackbucks way back in 1998. Many of Khan’s colleagues stressed that the successful actor had been punished because he was a star. Only a few of them said justice had been delivered.
Subhash Ghai is ‘extremely shocked’: As the 52-year-old actor’s friends and colleagues reacted with shock over the jail term for the superstar in the 1998 poaching case, director Subhash Ghai said Khan was likely to appeal to a higher court. Ghai, who has worked with Khan in several films, tweetedL “I am extremely shocked.” The director said he had “full trust in the Indian judiciary which had many other doors” for an “appeal for final justice”.
Ghai sought to stress that Khan was a “nice” man. He was “most loved … for his human reasons too”, Ghai tweeted.
I am extremely shocked to hear @BeingSalmanKhan being convicted by session court but also having full trust in indian judiciary which has many other doors to appeal for final justice whatsoever. Since He is most loved person by industry N people for his human reasons too.
— Subhash Ghai (@SubhashGhai1) April 5, 2018
Die-hard fan said ‘I am numb’: Friends started tweeting and fans began to gather outside Khan’s house in Galaxy Apartment, Bandra, soon after the verdict was announced. A police van had been stationed outside his house since the morning. “I don’t know how to react. I am numb. I hope he stays strong. His fans will always love him,” a young devotee, standing outside the actor’s house, said.
Khan was taken to the Jodhpur Central Jail after he was convicted in the 1998 case for gunning down two blackbucks in Rajasthan.
Himani Shivpuri said Salman a ‘nice individual’ but ‘law has right to pass judgment’: Actor Himani Shivpuri, who played Khan’s aunt in Hum Sath Sath Hain, during the shooting of which film the killing of blackbucks took place, said Khan was a “nice individual” who was “near and dear” to her. The judiciary’s verdict, however, had to be respected, she said, adding that the blackbuck was an endangered species, sacred to the Bishnoi tribe. “…I feel if you are killing or shooting an innocent animal (and) it is against the law, then the law has every right to pass a judgment. I am saddened as Salman is a nice individual, but if a nice individual commits a mistake, he should be able to bear the consequences,” Shivpuri told PTI.
Alok Nath said ‘we have to respect court’s judgment’: Actor Alok Nath, Khan’s on-screen father in the 1999 film Hum Sath Sath Hain, was more cautious in his reaction. “It is the honourable court’s judgment, so we have to take it and respect it as they have studied the case for 20 years,” he said.
Arjun Rampal said verdict ‘too harsh’: Actor Arjun Rampal tweeted to say the decision seemed a bit “too harsh”. “The law takes its course. Can’t argue (with) it. But at this point in time I just feel helpless and my heart goes out to @BeingSalmanKhan and his family. Reason, cause the last thing @BeingSalmanKhan is, is a criminal. I feel this is too harsh. I do hope he gets the relief he deserves,” the actor said.
The law takes its course. Can’t argue it. But at this point in time I just feel helpless and my heart goes out to @BeingSalmanKhan and his family. Reason, cause the last thing @BeingSalmanKhan is, is a criminal.I feel this is too harsh. I do hope he gets the relief he deserves.
— arjun rampal (@rampalarjun) April 5, 2018
Anil Sharma said verdict ‘very disturbing’: Filmmaker Anil Sharma, who directed Khan in Veer, said he hoped the actor would soon get bail. “It’s very disturbing. Salman is my colleague, we have worked together. When something like this happens with your colleague, you are bound to feel sad. We were hopeful he won’t be sentenced but now we hope he gets bail soon,” he told PTI.
Dalip Tahil asked why the other co-accused were not convicted: Actor Dalip Tahil expressed concern that only Khan was convicted, while the others were all acquitted. “I am still trying to get my head around the decision. You target him… where is the justice in this? You completely acquit the rest of the people. If they were there… they were also part of the crime,” Tahil told a TV channel.
Commenting on the blackbuck poaching case verdict, Samir Soni, actor and husband of actress Neelam, who was acquitted in the case, told news agencies: “We are happy for us but we are disappointed for Salman Khan.” Soni said that “justice has not been given properly in this case”. He added that he was “feeling bad” for Salman Khan.
Yesterday I got threatening SMSes and internet calls warning me not to appear for Salman Khan in bail hearing today: Mahesh Bora,Salman’s Counsel #BlackBuckCase #JodhpurCourt pic.twitter.com/1oceG8uXQY
— ANI (@ANI) April 6, 2018
Commenting on the Salman Khan Blackbuck poaching case, Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan said she felt bad about the outcome of the case and that the actor “should be given relief”. Bachchan added, “He has done a lot of humanitarian work.”
Salman a ‘habitual offender’: Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri, while pronouncing the guilty verdict in the case of killing the protected antelopes, called Salman a “habitual offender” under the wildlife protection laws of the country.
A timeline of the Salman Khan Blackbuck poaching case of 1998:
April 5, 2018: Salman Khan convicted. Gets 5-year jail term
November 11, 2016: Salman Khan was issued notice by the Supreme Court on an appeal by the Rajasthan government challenging his acquittal in blackbuck poaching case. The top court agrees to fast-track the plea.
July 25, 2016: The Rajasthan High Court acquitted Salman Khan of all charges in the blackbuck poaching case. The High Court said that there was no evidence to prove that the animals which were found dead were shot by the actor’s licensed gun.
August 31, 2006: The Rajasthan Court suspended the sentence and ordered the actor to not leave the country without formal permission.
April 10, 2006: Salman Khan convicted in the blackbuck hunting case. He was slapped a fine and sentenced to five years of jail. He spent a week in jail in Jodhpur before being granted bail.
October 2, 1998: A police complaint was filed against the five actors Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam for allegedly killing two blackbucks while they were shooting for the movie Hum Sath Sath Hain in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur.