Salman Khan reaches Mumbai after getting bail in blackbuck poaching case, fans celebrate
After spending two nights in a Rajasthan jail, actor Salman Khan, who got bail in a blackbuck poaching case, reached Mumbai on Saturday night.
Thousands of fans lined up at the Mumbai Airport and outside his Bandra home on Saturday evening, carrying placards and banners in support of the Bollywood superstar, news agency IANS reported.
A court in Jodhpur granted Salman bail on a bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties of like amount, his lawyer Mahesh Bora said earlier in the day.
The 52-year-old was sentenced to five years in prison on Thursday after being convicted for killing two blackbucks, an endangered antelope, in 1998.
Celebrations started soon after, with Salman’s fans bursting firecrackers outside Mumbai home and outside the court in Jodhpur. A large crowd has gathered in front of his Bandra home, Galaxy Apartments, waiting for the Bollywood superstar’s return.
Immediately after his release from Jodhpur Central Jail in the afternoon, Salman was driven under police escort to the airport, an official told PTI.
He walked out of the jail after the prison authorities received the court papers granting him bail, the official said.
His friends and well-wishers from the film industry as well as fans also took to Twitter to express their happiness.
Mahipal Bishnoi, the lawyer for the Bishnoi community, said Salman will not be able to leave the country without the court’s permission.
The next date of hearing is on May 7, when the court will hear his plea for appeal against the conviction.
The case against the Bollywood superstar was registered on the complaint of the Bishnoi community which reveres nature and considers killing animals a sin. The blackbuck is protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and the punishment for hunting blackbuck can be up to six years.
The actor killed the animals in Rajasthan’s Kankani village near Jodhpur during the shooting of film Hum Saath Saath Hain.
His co-stars and accused in the case — Saif Ali Khan, Neelam, Tabu and Sonali Bendre — were acquitted on the grounds of benefit of the doubt.
Salman, who was prisoner no. 106 in the jail, was visited by his sisters Alvira and Arpita as well as actor Preity Zinta.
District and sessions judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi pronounced the order in the post-lunch session after hearing arguments in the morning for nearly an hour.
The hearing on Salman’s bail plea was reserved on Friday after the prosecution sought time to peruse case papers.
Salman’s counsel Bora moved an application in the district court that included as many as 54 grounds on which the lower court’s verdict was challenged.
But public prosecutor Pokarram Bishnoi contended that this case was different. He said there were eyewitnesses who had recorded statements saying they had seen Salman shoot the blackbucks.
Bora told the sessions court that the trial court had ignored many facts in its decision. “The first post-mortem report of the blackbucks did not state that gun shot was the cause of death. No gun was seized from the accused.”
He pointed out that the investigation agency did not send the blackbuck skin for forensic examination. Only the bone was examined in which no bullet injury was found.
Bora also pointed out that Salman had fulfilled all orders of the court and so his sentence should be suspended.