Salman Khan, one of Bollywood's top actors on Saturday became "prisoner no 343" at the Jodhpur Central Jail after he was arrested and jailed for five years for hunting an endangered chinkara deer in 1998.
Salman, 41, looked subdued and was mostly quiet as policemen took him into custody on his arrival from Mumbai by a Jet Airways flight and rushed him in a police jeep to a courtroom before sending him to jail.
The dramatic jailing, which drew hundreds of his fans to the court and the prison complex, came a day after a district court upheld the five-year jail term given to Salman by a lower court.
Salman has been convicted of poaching a chinkara deer at the Ghoda farm near Jodhpur on the night of September 28, 1998 while filming Sooraj Barjatya's blockbuster Hum Saath Saath Hain.
Jail sources told IANS that Salman had been sent to barrack no 1.5, where the hugely popular actor had spent three nights in April 2006 before he got bail. Giving him company is Mahesh, who was with Salman during his first jail also.
Jail officials said Salman may be a celebrity but he would wear the white prison dress like everyone else and get no special treatment.
"We will follow the Jail Manual strictly and no additional (facilities) will be provided to Salman," senior jail official Ota Ram said.
The actor, Ram said, would be allowed to meet three people in 15 days.
"His food would also be similar to what is given to other jail inmates," the official said. Other sources said this would mostly be chapatis and lentils. But since the actor had been sentenced to undergo "simple imprisonment", he would not have to do any hard labour.
When he landed in Jodhpur, Salman was dressed in a white T-shirt, jeans and sporting sunglasses. Accompanying him were his brother Sohail, bodyguard Shera and his counsel Dipesh Mehta.
A large number of journalists and fans gathered at the airport and later outside the court and jail to catch a glimpse of the star. The police had a tough time controlling the crowds.
"We took him into custody and took him to court, which ordered that the actor be taken to Jodhpur Central Jail," a police official told IANS.
Salman is the second Bollywood star to be jailed in a span of a month. Sanjay Dutt spent 23 nights in Mumbai and Pune prisons after being convicted under the Arms Act in the 1993 Mumbai bombings. He is currently out on bail.
Although the killing of the deer by Salman and his friends had evoked widespread revulsion, there was no dearth of Salman lovers on Saturday.
"He is my hero and is suffering because of his celebrity status," insisted Rupali Singh, a college student who described herself an ardent devotee of the Bollywood actor.
According to legal experts, Salman will have to spend at least two nights in jail as the court does not sit on Saturday and Sunday too is a holiday. Any bail plea can be taken up only on Monday.
However, Salman's lawyers Saturday filed a revision petition in the Rajasthan High Court on Saturday.
His counsel Hastimal Saraswat said: "We have filed a revision petition in the high court. Though the court does not sit on Saturday but the court office is open, so we are filing the petition today.
"We will also plead for his bail when the court hears our petition," he added.
The actor had earlier told reporters outside his Mumbai home: "I have full faith in the law of the land and I will abide by (its ruling). I am going to Jodhpur to surrender."
The district and sessions court in Jodhpur on Friday dismissed the actor's plea against the five-year jail term handed by the chief judicial magistrate's court.
In April last year, Salman had filed an appeal in the district and sessions court against the judgment of the lower court in Jodhpur.
The court had found Salman guilty under Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. He had spent three nights in Jodhpur Central Jail before the district and sessions court gave him bail.
On Friday, district and sessions judge Kamal Raj Singhvi rejected his appeal and upheld the five-year jail term and the fine. The judge also issued an arrest warrant against him.
The star of hit films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam failed to appear for the hearing on Friday, saying he had missed the flight to Jodhpur from Hyderabad where he was shooting. However, his sister Alvira was in the court.
A case was registered against Salman and five others under the Indian Penal Code, the Wildlife Protection Act and the Indian Arms Act October 11, 1998.