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Blackbuck poaching case: Salman Khan gets 5-year jail term

Bollywood icon Salman Khan has been sentenced to five years in jail after a court in Jodhpur convicted him of killing two blackbucks 19 years ago.

He has also been slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000. Salman will now have to approach the Rajasthan High Court in order to get bail since his punishment exceeds three years, meaning he may have to spend tonight in jail.

 The other accused in the case – Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre, Neelam – and a local named Dushyant Singh have been acquitted in the case.
 The actors, along with a local named Dushyant Singh, were accused of killing two blackbucks, hunting of which is prohibited under the Wildlife Protection Act, in Kankani village in Jodhpur on the night of October 1-2, 1998.

Salman was facing charges under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. Saif Ali Khan and the other actors too were charged under Section 51 of the same act read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.

Last week, the chief judicial magistrate rural court in Jodhpur had completed the final hearings in the case that saw a long trial spanning 19 years.

The case dates back to October 1998 when Khan, Saif, Neelam, Tabu and Sonali allegedly went on a hunting expedition in Kankani and killed two blackbucks. They were in Rajasthan for the shoot of Hum Saath Saath Hain.

A case was later filed against Salman Khan, his fellow actors and Dushyant Singh following a massive uproar in the local Bishnoi community.

Salman previously won a minor relief in the blackbuck poaching case when a trial court had acquitted him of charges under the Arms Act. That acquittal has been challenged in a higher court.

Salman was also named in two other similar poaching cases – both to do with the alleged hunting and killing of chinkaras, also a protected species.

He was acquitted in both the chinkara poaching cases, acquittals that were later upheld by the Rajasthan High Court.

The Rajasthan government has challenged the high court order in the Supreme Court, where the matter is currently pending.

Khan is arguably India’s biggest star, and most of his films figure in Bollywood’s top box office earners. His last release in December, Tiger Zinda Hai, grossed more than Rs 300 crore. His next film, Race 3, is an action thriller and scheduled to release during the Eid holiday weekend in August.