Possible three years jail term for Salman Khan

The past has come back again to haunt Sallu Bhai (Salman Khan). In a recent court hearing the Rajasthan High Court has examined and revised the 14-year old black buck killing case against Salman and his co-stars Neelam, Saif Ali Khan and Sonali Bendre.

It was in 1998, while shooting for the film “Hum Saath Saath Hai” in Rajasthan, that actor Salman Khan and his colleagues had gone on a shooting spree for fun, in Kankani village near Jodhpur. They ended up killing two blackbucks and several chinkaras.  They are protected under the Wildlife protection Act of India 1972. It is a species of antelope, native to the Indian sub-continent.  Those killings angered the local Bishnoi (Vishnoi) community who are conservationist. To them preservation of plant and animal life is the religion.

There vociferous opposition grabbed the attention of the media and it became a national issue. It forced the Rajasthan Police to arrest Salman. Charges were framed under section 27 Arms Act, 51 of wildlife Act and 148 of IPC (Indian penal code) and section 52 of wildlife Act. Charges 147 and 149 of IPC against the others were framed.  After lingering in the court for seven years, Salman was fined 25,000 and sentenced to one year of rigorous imprisonment. Salman Khan’s jail term is still pending.

The defense counsel has termed the charges as baseless. The Govt. of Rajasthan had moved to the High Court after only the charges related to Wildlife Act were upheld by the session court. The high court has now ordered that not only the cases related to Wildlife Act under section 51 will be implied but also the charges under section 149 of IPC (of Unlawful Assembly). Section 51 carries a three year jail term and all the accused will now have to appear before the trail court. Earlier all the accused had appeared in the court on June 19, 2006.

Though Salman’s fans may cry foul over the court’s decision and their opinion might be that Salman being such a generous and unselfish human being, should be spared from this personal turmoil. But the case also involves the issue of wildlife conservation and biodiversity which doesn’t find much awareness in India. None the less, the resistance comes from another unselfish community – the Bishnoi Community. We hail them for doing the right thing.