|Salman Khan being escorted out of the court in Jodhpur on Friday. (AFP)
Feb. 17: Film star Salman Khan has been sentenced to one year in jail for killing a rare deer.
The chinkara slaughter ruling, which stunned Bollywood, came in one of four cases filed against the actor for allegedly poaching in a forest in Rajasthan during the shooting of the film Hum Saath Saath Hain in 1998.
Another case, involving the killing of a black buck, a protected species like the chinkara, comes up on Monday. Co-stars Saif Ali Khan, Neelam, Tabu and Sonali Bendre are co-accused and will have to appear in court with Salman for the framing of charges.
Salman, who has been given 30 days to appeal against today’s ruling, has at least three productions on the floor ' Sajid Nadiadwala’s Jaaneman, with Preity Zinta; B.R. Chopra’s Babul, with Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee; and Afzal Khan’s God Tussi Great Ho! with Priyanka Chopra and Bachchan.
“I am shocked and stunned to hear the news,” said Taran Adarsh, Trade Guide editor. “When actors like Sanjay Dutt and Salman get entangled in legal cases, it takes a huge toll on the whole arithmetic of film-making. The producers’ money, co-actors’ dates, shooting schedules, all bear the brunt. I estimate at least Rs 150 crore is riding on Salman right now.”
The actor, who had said last month, “Hang me if I am guilty”, appeared sombre as he left the court to chants from his fans of “Long live Salman Khan!”
He had attended the premiere of brother Sohail’s film Fight Club last night in Mumbai before flying to Jodhpur. After the chief judicial magistrate’s ruling, Sohail cancelled promotional events at three cinemas today.
Salman’s lawyer Dipesh Mehta said in Mumbai: “We have 30 days to go in appeal in the sessions court. We are likely to file the appeal next week.” Salman has also been fined Rs 5,000. Seven other accused, including comedian Satish Shah, were acquitted.
Apart from the three on the floor, at least six other big banner films have come under cloud. Rumi Jaffrey, director of God Tussi' , said: “What can I say' We sincerely hope that Salman gets bail in these cases.” Nadiadwala, Chopra and Khan refused to comment.
Salman is also facing trial in a hit-and-run case in Mumbai. Father Salim Khan said his son was subjected to unfair media pressure and hoped he would be free.
But Belinda Wright, Wildlife Protection Society of India founder, was happy. “Because this is a high profile case, it sends a message that poaching will not be tolerated' You cannot just go around shooting animals and get away with it.
“The other case involving the killing of a black buck is coming up' and we are very hopeful that we will win that too.”
The trial involving Saif Ali’s father, former cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who was arrested in a black buck killing case at Jhajjar last year, is also due to begin next week.