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Did Salman deserve it? ask Jodhpur fans

Salman's fans, who have been gathering around the prison, feel the actor is suffering due to his celebrity status.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2007 21:11 IST

With Bollywood star Salman Khan in the city jail, this historic Rajasthan city has suddenly come into the media spotlight as fans of the actor and others not so enamoured of him discuss passionately whether he deserved this punishment.

While his fans, who have been gathering around the prison in Jodhpur ever since Salman was arrested on Saturday, feel he has been booked because of his celebrity status, many are of the opinion that the actor has been rightly punished for killing an endangered deer five years ago in the state.

A majority of his sympathisers are girls and the youth who consider him a style icon.

"I think he is suffering because of his celebrity status. The court has acquitted five others in the same case ... why has only he been pronounced guilty?" questioned Anupama Chaudhary, a Class 12 student.

And many Salman fans firmly believe he is innocent. Said Bhanwar Singh, another college student: "A person like Salman can't do something like this. I have read that he helps lots of people and engages in charity. He could not have done this. All charges against him are fake."

At the same time, several people felt he had been rightly punished. "As an actor I love Salman but if you have committed a crime, no matter how big or small you are, you should be punished. Law is above all," said Ashok Chaudhary.

Salman was arrested at Jodhpur airport on Saturday and taken to the central jail. He has been convicted of poaching a chinkara deer at the Ghoda farm near Jodhpur on the night of Sep 28, 1998 while filming Sooraj Barjatya's blockbuster Hum Saath Saath Hain.

On Friday, the district and sessions court here had dismissed the actor's plea against the five-year jail term handed down by a lower court.

Meanwhile, some ardent admirers of Salman have in fact been praying hard for his early release.

"I have been visiting temples and praying ever since he came to Jodhpur. I want him to be freed soon and I am confident that he is not guilty," said Pinki, an executive in a private firm.

Added Vikram Singh, a Class 11 student: "I just love Salman. He is not guilty. I had brought rose petals to shower them on the Gypsy in which he was being taken to jail, but the police did not allow me to do so."

But several wildlife lovers felt the judgement was a landmark one, which was in favour of animal rights.

"I think this judgement will go a long way and help curb poaching activities," said Ramkumar Purohit, a resident.

And the happiest are members of the Bishnoi community who are nature worshippers and staunch animal lovers. Deer and antelopes are seen grazing peacefully in Bishnoi dominated areas due to the care and protection offered by the community. They had launched strong protests against Salman for killing chinkaras and black bucks.

"We are very happy with the court's decision. Though it has come after many years but he is finally behind bars and we hope that he is not released," said RK Bishnoi, a college student.

First Published: Aug 26, 2007 18:42 IST