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Saturday 4 July 2020

Blackbuck killing: Salman Khan found guilty, other actors acquitted

Final arguments in the case were completed in the trial court on 28 March, after which Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved the judgment

New Delhi:  Actor Salman Khan has been found guilty in the two-decade-old blackbuck poaching case in which he is accused. The actor could face a jail time of maximum six years.

Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu, and Neelam who were also facing charges in the case of accompanying Salman Khan have been let off or acquitted by the court. They were present in the Gypsy that Salman Khan was driving during the hunt in Kankani village near Jodhpur.

Salman Khan, accused of killing two blackbucks, was facing charges under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. Salman Khan was accused of killing two blackbucks in Bhagoda ki Dhani in Kankani village near Jodhpur on the intervening night of 1-2 October 1998, during the shooting of the film Hum Saath Saath Hain.

His co-actors from the movie — Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam — were also present in the court for the pronouncement of the verdict.

All actors, including Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam arrived in Jodhpur on Wednesday.

Final arguments in the case were completed in the trial court on 28 March, after which Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved the judgment.

Salman Khan is facing charges under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and the other actors have been charged under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.

“All of them were in a Gypsy car that night, with Salman Khan in the driver’s seat. He, on spotting a herd of black bucks, shot at and killed two of them,” Public Prosecutor Bhawani Singh Bhati had said. “But on being spotted and chased, they fled from the spot leaving the dead animals there,” he said, adding that there was adequate evidence against them.

Refuting these allegations, Salman Khan’s counsel HM Saraswat had said there were several loopholes in the prosecution’s story and that it had failed to prove its case beyond any doubt.

“Prosecution has failed to prove the allegations. It engaged in tampering and fabricating evidence and documents as well as roping in fake witnesses to prove its case,” he said.

“It even failed to prove that the blackbucks were killed by gunshots. Hence, such an investigation cannot be trusted,” Saraswat said.

The case also involved two more accused, Dushyant Singh, who was allegedly accompanying the actors when the poaching took place, and Dinesh Gawre said to be Salman Khan’s assistant.

“Gawre never appeared in court and was made to disappear by the main accused. Had he been around, there could have been more information available in the case,” Bhati claimed.

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