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".
Salman was sentenced to five years in jail in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case.
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.
However, the comments made by Asif did not go down well among Twitterers and blasted the Pakistan foreign minister in many humorous tweets.
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.
"If you have so much concerns regarding him as he is minority, Why your country banned his movies, Tiger and Tiger Jinda hai? Hypocrisy?," wrote another user on Twitter.
Another user castigated the Pakistan foreign minister's comments and said that he should be looking at the country's problems, instead of terming Salman as a 'minority'.
"This old guy is mentally ill and senile. And he is a minister for a rogue state. First look at your country's problems then we can discuss about minorities," another wrote on the micro-blogging site.
Earlier on Thursday, a Jodhpur court convicted Salman for five years in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case. A penalty of Rs 10,000 has also been levied on him.
Other accused in the case - Tabu, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam - were acquitted, while the 'Sultan' actor was held in the court.
In October 1998, total three cases in connection with poaching and one under the Arms Act were registered against Salman. The 52-year-old actor allegedly shot two blackbucks in Bhagoda ki Dhani in Kankani village near Jodhpur during the shooting of 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'.
Salman 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.
On July 25, 2016, the Rajasthan High Court acquitted Salman of all charges in the blackbuck poaching case and said there was no evidence to prove that the endangered animals were shot by the actor's licensed gun.
The Supreme Court on November 11, 2016, issued a notice to the Bollywood on an appeal by the Rajasthan government challenging his acquittal in blackbuck poaching case. The apex court had agreed to fast-track the case.
In January 2017, Salman was acquitted by a Jodhpur court in the Arms Act case.