The headline that’s not an April Fool’s joke: Salman Khan found guilty!
Bollywood‘s Ultimate Godfather must be wishing right now that this all is an April Fool’s joke. These headlines are from all around the world, as he’s a much bigger star now than he was in 1998.
Such a creative way to write a headline from the same news breaking story; all these came out within minutes of the court announcing its decision.
Due to the happenings of this case and the curiosity of it, we went back to the time when this incident first made news. What happened then? How and when this made news? Read on if you are interested to know.
WHEN the entire nation was celebrating Wildlife Protection Week, film stars from Bollywood were busy indiscriminately killing innocent animals in Rajasthan. For days together, after a hectic shooting schedule at the sets of Rajshri Pictures film Hum Saath Saath Hain at Jodhpur, these top heroes and heroines used to whisk away in the jungles near the town in the dark everyday with guns and kill black bucks, chinkaras and peacocks. The prey were then brought to a local hotel which cooked tasty dishes with their meat for the stars. All this went on for several days, but the fun came to an abrupt halt on Gandhi Jayanti, October 2.
Encouraged with the poaching of chinkaras and peacocks for several days, the hunters decided to savour black bucks, too. On October 1, with the assistance of the manager of the travel agency run by Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur, the film stars went to Gudha Bishnoian and shot two black bucks. As the black bucks fell on the ground writhing in pain, Salman got out of his Gypsy to halal the animals with the help of the big knife he had brought along with him. Hearing the gunshots villagers came running out of their houses only to find the helpless black bucks dying. Seeing the villagers the film stars fled from the village in their Gypsy leaving the bucks behind. But the villagers recognised Salman and after a chase on a motor cycle noted the number of their Gypsy.
The interrogation of the driver confirmed that on the night the bucks were killed Salman was not alone. He was accompanied in the Gypsy by, besides a local guide, film stars Saif Ali, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam Kothari. On inspection of the vehicle the forest officials came to the conclusion that it was earlier used to ferry dead chinkaras. A subsequent enquiry revealed that Salman Khan had hunted chinkaras, too, on September 26 and 28 in Mathania. Satish Shah was also with Salman on the night of October 2.
Whatever turned out after the grilling of the stars for about seven hours led the forest officials to believe that Salman Khan was the main accused. Just as the officials were to formally arrest the stars, Salman Khan and Saif Ali obtained interim bail till October 12 from the court. They were released but the film actresses were arrested and produced before a magistrate in the night itself. They were released on bail.
After the surrender of arms by Salman, the court released him on bail on October 15, only to be arrested again, this time by the police, on the charge of killing chinkaras and peacocks in Mathania on September 26 and 28. After remaining in police lock-up for 24 hours, Salman was remanded in judicial custody by the court till October 26.
Salman Khan, Saif Ali, Satish Shah, Tabu, Sonali and Neelam used to remain saath saath and enjoy hunting of innocent animals and savouring their meat. They were also saath saath when forest officials arrested them from the sets of ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’, barring Satish Shah, who escaped the dragnet of the law. All the filmstars were kept and interrogated Saath Saath at the forest office. Till then each of them was saath saath, but soon they fell apart.
While the interrogation was half way at the forest office, counsel for Salman Khan and Saif Ali produced court orders granting them interim bail. The bewildered actresses were taken aback when they were informed that no one had approached the court for bail on their behalf. Soon the forest officials told them they were under arrest. The unnerved actresses started weeping as they were left alone. But the forest officials were kind enough to produce them the same evening before a magistrate who, granting them bail, ordered their release.
This is how it happened. Till the local media picked it up, Jodhpur was abuzz with stories about the stars, who had arrived for the shooting of Rajashri Productions’ feelgood film Hum Sath Sath Hain, and that they had ventured out on shikar 14 times. But till October 1, no one was caught. That night, Salman, Saif Ali Khan, actresses Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre set off, as per the court records, in a white gypsy (number: RJ 191C 2201), accompanied by Harish Sindhi, who had driven them on earlier forays as well.
When they reached a particular stretch of forest—five km off the Jodhpur-Mumbai highway and 30 km from Jodhpur—they spotted a herd of the endangered black-bucks. Salman, who was driving, with Saif beside him, stopped, took aim and managed to shoot one blackbuck on the leg.
As soon as the first shot was fired, Salman was in trouble. Animal-loving Bishnois, living close by, rushed out of their houses. The stars sped from the scene but stopped some paces away when they spotted another herd. Apparently egged on by the actresses seated at the back, Salman was handed the gun and he took another shot, injuring the blackbuck on the neck.
The Bishnois gave chase—seven of them on three motorcycles. Salman rushed towards Looni, a village close by where the unit had been filming, then turned around and sped to the safety of Jodhpur. Recalls the strapping 68-year-old Bhenpa Ram, who chased the Gypsy: “I was sleeping when I heard the gunshot. I had a stick with me and I chased them for 6.4 km. They saw me chasing and hit my motorcycle. I fell down but I noted down the Gypsy number.”
If anyone is wondering why Salman’s co-stars were acquitted of all charges, it’s because they didn’t shoot any endangered animals. They might have been with him in the jeep, but they didn’t pick up a gun to shoot these animals. This is why Salman is the only one, who has been sentenced:
Section 51 of the Protection of Wildlife Act of 1972 says that any body found guilty of killing rare and endangered species of wildlife enlisted in Schedule I and II, will be liable to imprisonment up to six years but not less than one year. The punishment may also attract a fine up to Rs 25,000 but not less than Rs 50,000.
If the blackbuck case has got maximum mileage, there are two other cases pending against the stars. As early as September 26 and September 28, Salman and the others, including comedian Satish Shah, had gone hunting and killed two chinkaras near Mathania village.
On October 13, after one night in custody, Salman’s swagger and arrogance were gone. Only a day before, Sal-man and his colleagues had been at their rudest best with the investigating authorities, almost coming to blows with them. Now, in an Oscar-winning performance in humility, Salman looked shaken and repentant, and insisted on his innocence in hushed tones. As did Saif and the actresses. Some of them even spoke of possible defamation suits for dragging their name into print. But till the bubble burst, Salman had boasted in Umaid Bhawan Palace where they stayed for a few days after the shooting that they would be able to get away scot free.
They had very good reasons to believe this. Dushyant Singh, who has been named in the Mathania case and is related to ex-Jodhpur maharaja Gaj Singh and works in the palace at the travel desk, is said to be the one who first tempted the stars. Saif and Salman are both known to be fond of target practice—in fact on the sets they regularly tried their hand with airguns—and are said to have jumped at the possibility of shikar. Says brother Sohail: “Salman likes doing target practice so he got his airgun from Mumbai. It’s a hobby.”
Not realising that his room would be searched, Salman was careless. Two airguns (one from Salman’s and one from Saif’s room), a camera with a film which reportedly has pictures of them on the hunt were recovered. Now, even the .22 pistol has been recovered from Mumbai.
Then, acting on a tip-off, the police raided his father’s farmhouse in Alibag near Mumbai and found a blackbuck, two deers and a peacock. A case has been registered against Salim Khan, the famed scriptwriter, for keeping protected animals in captivity.
Salman Khan already had a chargesheet filed against him last year for killing two chinkara antelopes on September 28, 1998. It is believed that the hunting party had a feast out of their catch at Umaid Bhavan Palace Hotel owned by the former ruler of Jodhpur, Gaj Singh.
Three days later, on October 1, two black bucks were reportedly shot dead by Salman Khan, co-stars Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre and Dushyant Singh, who is associated with the Umaid Palace. Since the episode took place in Bishnoi territory near Jodhpur where black bucks are worshipped as descendants of Lord Krishna, the hunters were given a chase by the Bishnois. Though the hunters escaped, the dead animals were taken to the State Forest office the next morning and a case was registered.
For Harish Kumar Dulani, the driver, this part of the tale is the toughest to tell. “He would then slit the deer’s throat, clean his hands, and the others would cover the blood with sand.” No one complained that the chinkara was an endangered species, not a voice was raised about the law. Life is cheap in the desert.
On October 1, Salman had no idea he’d gone shooting in the wrong place. When he – accompanied by Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam, all down in Jodhpur to make a film – allegedly gunned down two blackbucks in Gudda Bishnoi, the Bishnois were watching. They attacked him, chased him, damaged his Gypsy and reported him to the forest officials.
Nine days later, officials stormed into the Umaid Palace Hotel, for a collective questioning of the film stars. The three actresses wept on interrogation, revealing that they had gone with Salman to Gudda Bishnoi, but explaining tearfully, “We did go there but never shot. We only clapped.”
It was good enough an answer to get them off, and accompanied by Saif, who also got bail, they escaped to Mumbai with a Rs 15.5 lakh bill for the producers to pay. And leaving Salman as the central character in Jodhpur’s most captivating drama.
The storm in the desert began brewing from the day Salman Khan arrived in Jodhpur to shoot Hum Saath Saath Hain, a Rajshri Productions film. He had no inkling that weeks later he would be in custody, sleeping in a hell straight out of the movies: a desert cooler, no silk sheets, and armed guards instead of room service.
If he did, he wouldn’t have complained that his plush Umaid Palace Hotel room was too small. So what if Sonali, Tabu and Neelam had similar rooms; he demanded, and was given, a suite.
The hero was turning into a swaggering villain. He was haughty with hotel staff. He constantly lost his shirt, literally so, strutting bare-bodied along hotel corridors.
And when he and Saif got bored, they lined up soft drink bottles, drew their guns – police say he carried a revolver in his waistband – and played cowboys. Salman should have left it at that, his only crime being excessive testosterone and puffed-up machismo. Chasing down blackbucks and slitting their throats was entirely a different matter.
According to information gathered by INDIA TODAY, the hunt began on the evening of September 26. At Umaid Palace, driver Dulani was told to arrange for sightseeing trips for hotel guests by Dushyant Singh, who looked after Travelaide, a company owned by Gaj Singh, erstwhile ruler of Jodhpur.
At about 10 p.m., Dulani was pleased but surprised when Salman Khan arrived and asked if he could drive. Satish Shah sat with him in the front with Dulani and four others in the rear.
One of them, Yashpal, guided Salman to Bavad village, off Nagaur road, 40 km away from Umaid Palace. There, as if on request, a herd of chinkaras awaited them.
As Dulani said in his statement, Khan fired twice and missed. Satish Shah egged him on, “Jama ke lagao (Do it properly).” The third shot was fatal. Khan got down and cut the chinkara’s throat and then, after killing another one, drove back to the hotel.
Yashpal then took the Gypsy to another hotel, managed to get the kitchen opened at 2:30 a.m. and asked Dulani to leave.
Later, the hotel owner and the cook were also arrested for cooking the deer meat.
Next day, on September 27, Dulani washed the Gypsy of dust and blood. The hunt resumed, but no deer were found. The following day Salman, driving with Saif and Dushyant, seemed to be satisfied just running the chinkara ragged, chasing them till they could run no longer.
Later that night they returned, and this time a chinkara was shot. On October 1, all the film stars went out and two blackbucks were shot.
But this time, as Choga Ram, one of the complainants who lives in Gudda Bishnoi and chased the Gypsy, says, “They strayed too close to our homes.”
Despite the confrontation, the actors seemed to keep faith in their status, that celebrity would ensure they were left alone. Even so, on October 12 Salman was arrested and charged with killing three chinkaras. He seemed confident of freedom. When bail was denied his face fell. Days later when Salman was eventually released on bail for killing two blackbucks, he was immediately rearrested by the police for the slaughter of three chinkaras.
Killing the blackbuck and chinkara, both Schedule 1 animals on the endangered list is a violation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and promises the hero anywhere from one to six years in prison – in places where Kader Khan is not the jailor.
Add the cooking of the meat of endangered species, which invites punishment up to seven years, and the numbers begin to get scary.
A short distance out into the wild the group spotted a chinkara. Salman Khan took a rifle from the bag, aimed and fired. The wounded animal ran; Khan leaped from the car and chased it on foot and shot it again. When it collapsed, someone took a knife and cut the deer’s throat, draining the blood, while the animal uttered its dying wail.
Soon afterwards two more chinkara were spotted. Khan shot again, wounded one of them, then jumped out and slit its throat while the deer struggled and cried and finally died. They took the two carcasses back to Jodhpur, where staff at a hotel were roused from their beds and obliged to clean and cook them for the party.If any of the villagers in the area of the hunt heard anything that night, they kept quiet about it. Likewise, the guide, the driver, the hotel staff and the cook. The party, again led by Khan, went out hunting again and again: on the 27th, the 28th, the 30th. No-one breathed a word. These, after all, are the kings of Bollywood, India’s new maharajas, and they do as they please. By day Khan strolled around the Umeda Bhawan Palace topless, baring his glorious torso; management implored him to cover up but he ignored them. By night he and his friends hunted. Who could deny them? Who would have the courage to stop them?
They must have begun to feel invulnerable, beyond any law. That is perhaps the only explanation for what happened next. Until now they had been hunting across land which, while close to the communities of the Bishnoi, the special protectors of the deer, is peopled by other local groups which do not have this tradition of benevolent concern. That may explain why no alert was sounded, why Khan and his friends hunted with impunity. On the night of Thursday 1 October, though, they became reckless: they strayed on to the Bishnois’ land.
On this night, Salman Khan again took the wheel, and when they were 20km from Jodhpur they veered off the road into the country of the Bishnoi. Five kilometres into the wild they spotted a group of blackbuck, beautiful dark brown antelopes with white underbellies. Khan braked, grabbed the rifle, took aim and shot the deer in the leg. But before he could dispatch the animal with his knife, local Bishnoi farmers, roused by the noise, were out of their houses to find out what was going on. The jeep drove off at speed, but when they came across another group of blackbuck, Khan could not resist having another go. This time an animal was hit in the neck. By now the Bishnoi were giving chase on motorcycles – seven on three machines – and though one bike was knocked over by the jeep, the farmers were able to record the number on the plates.
At the arraignment, Khan himself was full of rich brat conceit, lolling in his chair and joking with his co-accused. But his questioning lasted seven hours, and after a few nights on a hard cot in the forester’s hut which was his makeshift prison, the stuffing had come out of him. In court now he was meek and tame. To the press he declared his innocence – “I love wild animals,” he bleated, “how could I harm them?”
It must have been hard for him to judge how to play it; for now the contradictions in his screen persona were coming home to roost. For Khan the on-screen bully boy, a reputation for slitting furry animals’ throats in real life might be almost helpful; and Blitz, a Bombay tabloid, duly weighed in with anonymous “film industry sources” describing Khan as “a very violent person” and a former girlfriend calling him “a maniac”.
We always say that you cannot know for sure if someone is guilty of a crime if you weren’t there. It’s why this interview that Salman did a couple of years ago while he was still with Katrina Kaif sort of opened our eyes. Why? Because he lied! He lied when he was asked about whether he has ever hit a woman and he lied about killing endangered animals. He believed his lies and wanted us to believe it too. When you are able to lie once about something as serious as having uncontrollable rage issues and being an MCP to women, it’s hard to trust your words after that. Unless, you got Ghajini and really don’t remember!
If we go by what he has been saying for years, then we need to ask if the police and investigators have nothing else to do? Nothing better to do than chasing a superstar, who did nothing wrong? Are they all crazy and he alone is sane. He didn’t kill people on the pavement, he didn’t kill endangered animals and he didn’t raise a hand on his exes. How come after the long interoggation, the police decided that only Salman was responsible? Also, the only person who spoke out was the driver. So, is he lying too when he told the media what he saw? Did the real shooter pay the driver to lie? What about when people saw you slapping your ex in public? Or what about the other ex that you abused so much so that she had to end everything by going to the police and the media with her broken arm? Speaking of which, here’s a snippet from what SKJ posted today:
By the way, in the interview above Salman claimed that they just fed biscuits but then in another interview, he claimed that he wasn’t the one who shot the animals. He contradicted his own statements! They should have trained him better!
As for those concerned about what would happened to the hundreds of girls that ride on Salman’s shoulders as well as Sooraj Pancholi, Salman mentioned this too in court:
The Bollywood media and celebrities are speaking about Salman Khan, like if he passed away or something! He is sleeping in jail tonight, but he might just be out tomorrow. If Sanjay Dutt can get out, Salman Khan can get out too!
Salman Khan is a man that commited not one, but two criminal offences. There are other offences as well, but no charges were pressed against that. His charity, his good deeds to the community and his big heart cannot be used to defend his criminal offences. That’s really inappropriate. You cannot defend a criminal by saying that he does good things and is a good man. Justice has to be served for what he did.
He got off earlier, thanks to his good team that was handled by Reshma Shetty. Since he fired Reshma from his team, we were wondering why they did that since he has this case pending. Maybe the fact that he escaped the earlier case made him confident that he can escape this one too. Reshma created that public image for him and gave him the best team to ensure that he didn’t go to jail.
Salman Khan‘s lawyers released a statement soon after the court found him guilty. It seems that they don’t like it that the others got acquitted while Salman was found guilty.
The best part of the whole ordeal is courtesy of Bebola’s Saifu, Saif Ali Khan, who pretty much must have wished that his wife and kid were with him so that the media would pitied him. Instead, the media got his true colours on camera. Now, you might argue and say that Saifu genuinely cared about his driver’s safety, but no! He only cares about himself and the relevancy that his Bebola and Taimur brings him!