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. Salman's blood pressure was high when he entered the jail yesterday. However, it stabilised later.
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:
1) Salman's blood pressure was high: Salman's blood pressure was high when he entered the jail yesterday. However, it stabilised later. The actor was visibly tense yesterday and was strolling outside the barracks but was asked by the security personnel to go inside.
Salman spends restless night in Jodhpur jail: Salman Khan spent a restless night in Jodhpur Central Jail's barrack number 2 and is being given no-frill meals with no concessions for his star status, a jail official said today. Quadi no 106, who will have to spend another day in jail after a sessions court reserved its decision on his bail plea till tomorrow, was given sprouts and milk for breakfast after a late night, said Deputy Inspector General (jails) Vikram Singh.
The star was given Hindi newspapers by the jail administration in the morning on his request. Salman met his lawyers and bodyguard Shera before the bail hearing in the district and sessions court.
As per 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.
Judge says jail term fair given Salman Khan's clout, gravity of offence: Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri, in his 201-page verdict, said that since the culprit is an actor and has a substantial following, his actions are observed and followed by the masses.
"The accused (Salman Khan) is a popular actor whose deeds are followed by people. Despite this, the accused hunted two blackbucks. It is not justified to give Salman Khan the benefit of probation in view of the manner in which he hunted by shooting two innocent, moot black bucks that come under the purview of the Wildlife Conservation Act," the verdict said.
Khatri said that, "considering the rising number of cases of illegal hunting of wildlife animals, looking at the circumstances of the case and gravity of the offence, giving the benefit of Probation of Offender Act does not appear justified."
Read here how Salman spent his first night in jail: Salman spends restless night in Jodhpur jail
The prosecution said, "we wanted maximum punishment"
Mahipal Bishnoi, counsel for the Bishnoi community, had said on Thursday, "After the court convicted Khan under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment along with a monetary fine of Rs 10,000. We had asked for maximum punishment available under the provisions of the Act, which is six years, but the court sentenced him to five years. From the beginning, our case was strong because of watertight evidence and the fact that the witnesses stuck to their statements."
Read here what the impact on Salman's brand value will be: Brand Salman set for a sunset? Bhaijaan's allure won't survive behind barsJodhpur Session court seeks report on Blackbuck poaching case: According to reports, the sessions court has sought a detailed report on the blackbuck poaching case from the trial court.
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.
4) 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.
6) 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.
7) 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.
8) 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.
9) 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.
Pak minister trolled for giving communal colour to Salman's conviction: Twitterers were up in arms on Thursday after the Pakistan Foreign Minister 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.
10) 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.
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.
With agency inputs