|Salman Khan at his Pali Hill residence, Galaxy, in Mumbai on Friday. (Below) Sister Arpita, sister-in-law and animal rights activist Malaika Arora Khan, designer Vikram Phadnis and Malaika’s sister Amrita peer out for a glimpse of the media. PTI and Fotocorp
Aug. 24: Salman Khan began running from the law today even before a Jodhpur district court threw out his appeal against a five-year jail term for killing a chinkara.
His run could end as early as Sunday.
Salman skipped the court and, after a countrywide buzz over his whereabouts, appeared in true baghi style on his apartment balcony in Mumbai to wave at a crowd of fans, defiant till the last.
His lawyers in Jodhpur said the actor would take his own time to surrender, and would probably choose a date after Raksha Bandhan on Tuesday. He is likely to be spared the choice thanks to the Rajasthan government.
Jaipur rose to the occasion this time after failing to find Orissa IPS officer B.B. Mohanty’s son Bitty nine months after the convicted rapist jumped parole. It will send a five-member police team to Mumbai “by the first available train on Saturday afternoon”.
Salman will be arrested on Sunday or Monday, brought to Jodhpur by train, and produced before the court the next day, Rajasthan police said.
Salman’s sister Alvira had appeared before the judge today and tried her best to buy time for him.
“He missed his flight,” she pleaded. “Please give him some more time so he can appear before the court in person.”
But judge Kamal Raj Singhvi wasn’t listening. He issued a non-bailable arrest warrant, turning the 42-year-old film star into a fugitive.
By then, the drama had shifted to Mumbai, where friends and family had gone into a huddle, refusing to reveal where Salman was.
Woman about town and sister-in-law Malaika Arora Khan, who recently signed up as a brand ambassador for the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, avoided the media. The other Khan bahu, Seema, kept the shutters down at her high-profile boutique, Miraya, on the ground floor of family home Galaxy in Bandra.
There was no news from girlfriend Katrina Kaif, who is believed to be focusing on her career.
At least a thousand fans apart from TV crews stood outside the apartment block, calling for Salman amid speculation that he was hiding at home.
Brothers Sohail and Arbaaz made repeated appearances to check out the crowd and instruct security staff. Salman’s mom Salma, stepmom Helen and father Salim stayed indoors.
Bollywood friends, including Congress MP Govinda and David Dhawan, came and left without confirming the news. Govinda later told a TV channel that Salman was being targeted and that his conviction was a bad sign for the country.
It was left for forever-foot-in-the mouth Aditya Panscholi to come and blurt out the secret, setting up Salman’s defiance-dripping appearance.
The actor’s counsel said today’s judgment would be challenged in Rajasthan High Court. Salman must stay in jail till his lawyers are able to secure bail for him. The prosecution said Salman hurt his case by avoiding surrender.
Rajasthan is particularly keen to see the actor behind bars to please the politically and socially powerful Bishnoi community, to whom the chinkara is a sacred animal.
The community had agitated to have an FIR lodged against Salman after he killed the protected animal in September 1998 during the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hein near Jodhpur. A lower court had convicted him in April last year.
In February 2006, Salman got one year in a black buck poaching case, too. His appeal is pending with the high court.