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Convicted

BOLLYWOOD SUPERSTAR Salman Khan was sentenced to five years' rigorous imprisonment by a city court on Monday after he was found guilty of hunting the endangered chinkara deer.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 13:42 IST

BOLLYWOOD SUPERSTAR Salman Khan was sentenced to five years' rigorous imprisonment by a city court on Monday after he was found guilty of hunting the endangered chinkara deer.

The actor was convicted of killing two chinkara deer, also known as the Indian gazelle, a protected animal under the Wildlife Protection Act. Khan was shooting for the movie Hum Saath Saath Hain when he went hunting in Ghoda farm in Mathania, on the night of September 28, 1998. The court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Brijendra Kumar Jain also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Khan.

The court sentenced Govardhan Singh, the watchman of the farm, to one year's imprisonment. He was also fined Rs 5,000.
The actor, who was present in the court, was immediately taken to the Jodhpur Central Jail. Shaking his head, he kept muttering, "This is a wrong decision." He will have to spend at least two nights in the cell since the courts will reopen only on Wednesday.

Though the court had earlier said that it would give the verdict on April 10, a friend of the Khan family said the actor "did not think that an adverse verdict was on his way". While the local Bishnoi community, which had first alerted the authorities about Khan's chinkara hunt, rejoiced, Bollywood was shocked. Sunil Manchanda, who produced Khan-starrer Tere Naam, said the sentence was too harsh. "It is a bad sign for Bollywood,” he said.

About Rs 100 crore is riding on the superstar, with seven of his films in different stages of production, apart from various commercials.

Actor Priety Zinta said while the judgement sentencing Khan might be accepted, one wondered why accused in the Jessica Lall murder case were let off.

While Khan was found guilty under Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, he got the benefit of the doubt on charges framed under other sections, including the one for possessing gun without a licence. The verdict was based on the testimony of Khan's jeep driver, Harish Dulani.

Though Dulani did not attend further court hearings, his taped testimony to the magistrate turned the case against Khan. The court also sentenced Govardhan Singh, the watchman of Ghoda farm, to one year's imprisonment. He was also fined Rs
5,000.

In February, the same court had sentenced Khan to one year's imprisonment for killing two blackbucks in Bhawad, on the outskirts of Jodhpur, two days before his chinkara hunt.

Khan's lawyer said they would appeal against the order on Wednesday. In Mumbai, the Khan family was stunned on hearing the news. The actor's mother, Salma, was admitted to a Bandra hospital after she heard the judgement. Meanwhile, Khan's father scriptwriter Salim Khan, brother Arbaaz Khan and friend Katrina Kaif were on their way to Jodhpur.