Salman Khan sentenced to five years in jail

Salman Khan at the Jodhpur court
Jodhpur/Mumbai: Salman Khan has been sentenced to five years in prison for killing two blackbuck almost 20 years ago, a verdict that will cast a shadow on film projects worth hundreds of crores unless the actor gets immediate relief from a higher court.
Soon after chief judicial magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri handed the sentence in Jodhpur on Thursday afternoon, the 52-year-old actor was taken in a police SUV to Jodhpur Central Jail where he has served time earlier. His appeal for bail will be heard by the sessions court at 10.30am on Friday, Salman's lawyer Anand Desai said.
Salman was held guilty under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act for poaching the endangered animal, an offence that carries a maximum punishment of six years in jail. He has also been fined Rs 10,000.
Actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre and local resident Dushyant Singh, who were co-accused in the case, were acquitted by the court which gave them the "benefit of doubt", prosecution lawyer Mahipal Bishnoi said.
Salman and the others had been charged with poaching the blackbuck, a species from the antelope family revered by the Bishnoi community of the region, in Kankani village near Jodhpur on the night of October 1, 1998. The stars were in Jodhpur for the shooting of Sooraj Barjatya's Hum Saath Saath Hain.
Handing Salman the jail term, the judge said he was a "popular actor whose deeds are followed by people". The prosecution had cited the actor's past run-ins with the law, calling him a "habitual offender".

In 2015, Bombay High Court had overturned his conviction in a hit-and-run case in which he was accused of running over a group of people sleeping on a Mumbai pavement, killing one and injuring four. Last year, another court in Jodhpur had acquitted Salman in a separate poaching case.
Lawyer Desai said Thursday's verdict "came as a surprise" because the "facts of this case were the same as those for which Salman has been acquitted" by Rajasthan High Court in two cases.
Since the sentence exceeds three years, the appeal for bail has to be filed in a higher court.
Salman will spend the night in Jodhpur Central Jail, which also houses self-proclaimed guru Asaram Bapu who is accused of rape. Salman had earlier spent 18 days in the same jail in 1998, 2006 and 2007, all for cases of poaching.
The prison superintendent said for dinner on Thursday he was served normal jail diet like "dal-chapatti and the morning meal will include simple khichdi". Sources said the actor, who is Qaidi No. 106, did not eat. "He will have a simple wooden bed, a rug and a cooler in his cell," the superintendent said.
The jail term has left Bollywood trade analysts worried. "A total of about Rs 400 crore is riding on the actor. At present, Salman has one film on the floors while the rest have only been announced. He has other films like Bharat and the next Dabangg project that have been planned to go on the floors later this year," said trade analyst Amod Mehra.
The actor had just returned from Abu Dhabi after completing the shooting of his Id release Race 3.
He is also supposed to shoot for the television show 10 Ka Dum in May.

The Telegraph

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