A Jodhpur court will on Thursday give its verdict in a two-decade-old poaching case against actors Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam and Tabu. Two others, a local travel agent Dushyant Singh, and Salman Khan’s assistant at the time, Dinesh Gawre, are also accused in the case that goes back to October 1998.
Salman Khan is accused of hunting the endangered blackbuck in Kankani village near Jodhpur during the shooting of film Hum Saath Saath Hain. His co-actors have been named in the case as they were in the vehicle Salman Khan allegedly used while hunting the animal. Gawre has been absconding for 20 years.
Both blackbucks and chinkaras fall under the endangered species category, and killing them is a punishable offence in India.
In January 2017, the Jodhpur court had acquitted Khan in the Arms Act case filed against him in 1998 in connection with poaching blackbucks and chinkaras in Rajasthan. The cases continue to remain pending in different courts as the prosecution has filed appeals against all the acquittals.
The prosecution has relied on the statements of the Bishnoi community, which lives in the area and protects the blackbuck. According to the case, the villagers said they came out of their homes after they heard gunshots and even chased the Gypsy vehicle that Salman Khan was driving. The villagers were the key witnesses in the case.
Salman Khan’s lawyers, however, claim there is no forensic evidence to prove that the deer were hunted and killed with guns.
This is the last of three poaching cases and an Arms Act case against Salman Khan from the incidents of 1998. The actor has spent time in a Jodhpur jail twice in connection with the case.