A 20-year-old blackbuck poaching case finally caught up with actor Salman Khan on April 5 when a Jodhpur court sentenced the actor to five years in jail.
While shooting for Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Saath Saath Hain in Jodhpur in September 1998, Salman Khan, along with his co-stars, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam, went out to hunt, which allegedly resulted in three chinkaras and two blackbuck being killed. Before this week’s conviction, Salman Khan had been acquitted in three cases related to the 1998 hunting expedition.
On Thursday, Khan was finally found guilty of the poaching of two endangered blackbuck under the Wildlife (Protection) Act. But his Hum Saath Saath Hain co-stars were acquitted.
This is not the first time Khan has had a serious brush with the law. In September 2002, the actor had been accused of driving his vehicle over people sleeping on a pavement in Mumbai, resulting in the death of one man. At the end of a long-drawn battle in the court, during which important case files disappeared and the primary witness died, the Bombay High Court in December 2015 ruled that Khan was not guilty.
So, finally, when Bollywood’s “bad boy” Khan received a five-year jail sentence on Thursday, a large section of people online and beyond felt that justice had been served. Soon enough, social media users got down to commemorate the moment with memes, jokes and everything in between.
Khan’s jail sentence has put the prospects of his upcoming releases in uncertain territory. These projects including films like Kick 2, Dabangg 3, Bharat, in addition to Race 3, parts of which have already been shot. A user pointed out how the court’s verdict would indirectly affect the chances of another actor eager to re-brand himself in Bollywood by being a part of Khan’s upcoming film.
Meanwhile, another user noted Khan’s track record of launching the film careers of a volley of new faces with questionable acting skills.
The meme makers, meanwhile, made digs at various aspects of Khan’s chequered life, for example, the actor’s infamous brashness and ultra-machismo.
His history of repeated courtoom appearances was also fodder for the meme-makers.
Some users noted how Khan’s much-publicised humanitarian work through the actor’s organisation Being Human could not swing the verdict in the actor’s favour.
One user noted how the various people Khan had had tiffs with in the past such as singer Arijit Singh, actor Vivek Oberoi, and, well, of course, the poor blackbuck, were happy with the verdict.
Some were just silly fun.
And why miss a chance to throw shade at Narendra Modi while you are at it?
Some Twitter users made fun of the fact that at the Jodhpur Central Jail, Khan had been put in a cell adjacent to that of rape convict and self-styled godman Asaram Bapu.
Meanwhile, cartoonists on Twitter illustrated the proceedings of the day in context of contemporary Indian realities with much nuance and perspective.