Blackbuck Case Verdict: Salman Khan has been found guilty, and sentenced to 5 years in jail.
Jodhpur: Salman Khan, one of India's biggest stars, was sentenced to five years in jail on Thursday for killing two endangered blackbucks in Rajasthan 20 years ago. The 52-year-old actor was declared guilty by a judge for hunting the rare antelopes in forests near Jodhpur while filming "Hum Saath Saath Hain" in 1998. His bail request will be heard today. His co-stars in the movie, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam Kothari, were acquitted.
Here are the top developments from the Salman Khan blackbuck poaching case verdict:
- The judge said: "The way the accused killed two innocent black bucks in violation of the wildlife laws...he is a film star, people emulate him... there has been a rise in poaching incidents, so leniency is not justified."
- Salman Khan, wearing what is known to be his "lucky" black shirt, was taken straight from court to the Jodhpur Central Jail, where he has served three brief stints before.
- The case against him was brought by members of the Bishnoi community, who revere antelopes. The community has pursued the case for almost two decades and cheered Thursday's decision by setting off firecrackers outside the court.
- The antelopes were shot dead near a village of Bishnois in October 1998, when the actors went on a hunt after spending the day shooting for their film. The court heard 28 witnesses, including villagers who came out running from their huts on hearing gunshots.
- Salman Khan had spotted a herd of blackbucks and shot dead two of them, the court was told. The Bishnois alleged that they took a bike and chased the Gypsy that Salman Khan was driving.
- In hearings over the past two decades, the actor insisted that he was being framed. Reports that the animals died of "overeating" or that they were killed by dogs were also submitted in court.
- In an interview in 2009, Salman Khan had told NDTV that he had "saved the deer" and fed it biscuits. "We saw a fawn caught in a bush. He was petrified. I took him out of there, gave him some water. The whole herd was there. (The fawn) ate a few biscuits and went away".
- Salman Khan is one of the most bankable stars in India and one-third of the powerful Khan troika that rules Hindi films. Around Rs. 600 crore is believed to be riding on him in the Mumbai film industry, Bollywood.
- In 2015, Salman Khan was cleared in a 2002 hit-and-run case in which his Toyota Land Cruiser had crashed into men sleeping on a pavement in Mumbai's Bandra, killing one. Last year, another court in Jodhpur acquitted Khan in a separate poaching case, ruling that there was no proof that Khan had killed an endangered gazelle.
- Known in Bollywood as "bhai (brother)" Salman Khan was notorious for his controversies at the peak of his career. Ten years ago, he started rebranding, launching a charity "Being Human" and projecting a more affable, compassionate side.
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