- "What is his crime?" asked Shatrughan Sinha
- "In reality, a total of 25 years' sentence," said Mr Sinha
- "I really feel Salman is being punished for being who he is," he added
"What is his crime? And it's not just a five-year sentence that seems very harsh to me. It is actually twenty years since Salman has been in and out of Jodhpur courts and prison. Plus the five years that the Honourable Judge has awarded him now. So it's, in reality, a total of 25 years' sentence," Mr Sinha added. Salman Khan was declared guilty of hunting blackbuck and sentenced to five years in jail on Thursday. Salman Khan has been granted bail by a court in Rajasthan's Jodhpur on Saturday.
"I really feel Salman is being punished for being who he is. If he was a commoner he would not have to suffer for 25 years for a crime he may or may not have committed," Shatrughan Sinha told IANS.
Salman was found guilty of killing endangered blackbuck while filming Hum Saath Saath Hain in Rajasthan in 1998. The other Hum Saath Saath Hain actors - Tabu, Sonali Bendre, Saif Ali Khan and Neelam Kothari - were acquitted of inciting Salman to hunt. Referring to the others, who were acquitted, Mr Sinha said: "There were others with Salman that night when he is alleged to have gone hunting in Jodhpur. He couldn't have gone alone. His friends must have been with him in the alleged crime. Why have they been let off without a sentence?" However, he added: "Saif, Neelam, Sonali Bendre and Tabu, are all wonderful human beings. But so is Salman."
Citing Salman's humanitarian work over the years, Shatrughan Sinha said: "He is one of the kindest most generous human beings I've seen. Always ready to help the needy. Why give him a prison cell when there's so much he can do from the outside? Give him community work as punishment. He will happily do it," reported IANS.
Other Bollywood stars who share Shatrughan Sinha's sentiments include Varun Dhawan, Arjun Rampal and Subhash Ghai, all of who tweeted in support of the 52-year-old superstar. Preity Zinta also arrived in Jodhpur on Friday presumably to meet her co-star and friend, who is in jail.
After the verdict on the blackbuck poaching case on Thursday, Salman Khan was directly taken to the Jodhpur Central Jail, where he is lodged as prisoner no 106. Salman Khan recently wrapped the Abu Dhabi schedule of his upcoming film Race 3 and also has Ali Abbas Zafar's Bharat in his line-up.
(With IANS inputs)