Salman Khan’s conviction in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case by a Jodhpur court on Thursday has saddened film fraternity members like Jaya Bachchan, Subhash Ghai and Alok Nath, who hope he will get justice in a higher court.
Actor-politician Jaya told the media: “I am feeling bad… The film industry has invested so much on him, they will suffer loss. After 20 years, they are finding him guilty. But law takes its course… What can one say?”
Asked if she sees him get justice in a higher court, Jaya said: “He should… He does a lot of humanitarian work through his organisation Being Human.”
Salman, 52, was found guilty under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 for killing two blackbucks, an endangered species, hunting of which is prohibited by law. The incident took place in Kankani village near Jodhpur on October 1-2, 1998, during the shooting of Bollywood film Hum Saath Saath Hain.
While Salman has been sentenced to five years in prison, four co-accused stars — Sonali Bendre, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu and Neelam — apart from one other local person, were acquitted of all charges.
Ghai tweeted: “I am extremely shocked to hear Salman Khan being convicted… but also having full trust in Indian judiciary which has many other doors to appeal for final justice… Since he (Salman) is most loved person by industry and people for his human reasons too.”
Alok, who has worked closely with Salman in films like Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, told a TV channel that it’s tragic that such a verdict has come after two decades.
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The actor, who played Salman’s father in Hum Saath Saath Hain said the conviction is a sad news for the film industry.
“It took so long… for a person who has been on tenterhooks over this case for the last two decades, and suddenly there’s this huge punishment. I don’t know what to say,” he said, hoping that Salman’s battery of lawyers will appeal for justice in a higher court.
Arjun Rampal felt the law takes its own course and one can’t argue it. He tweeted: “But at this point in time I just feel helpless and my heart goes out to Salman Khan and his family. Reason, cause the last thing Salman Khan is, is a criminal. I feel this is too harsh. I do hope he gets the relief he deserves.”
TV actress Shilpa Shinde, who was in Bigg Boss 11 — hosted by Salman — raised multiple questions.
She tweeted: “How many tigers have been poached and what’s the status of Justice on that? How many jungles have been cut down in the name of development? Isn’t it leading to wildlife killing? Punishing a good human being is not acceptable.
“Animal poaching is ever-increasing, jungles are cut in the name of urban development, isn’t it leading to wildlife killing? Who will be punished for that?”
Salman’s lawyers have reached out to the sessions court, which will hear the bail appeal on Friday morning. The actor is currently in Jodhpur Central Jail.
His sisters Alvira and Arpita, as well as bodyguard Shera were at the court when the verdict was announced.
Salman’s filmmaker friend Sajid Nadiadwala has also left for Jodhpur to be by his side. Nadiadwala had organised a party here on Friday to celebrate the success of Baaghi 2, but now it stands cancelled, a statement said.
Varun Dhawan also tweeted: “I know for a fact that Salman bhai and his family have the utmost respect and faith in our judiciary system. @BeingSalmanKhan is one of the strongest and most genuine people I know and I’m sure he will come out of this stronger.”
Currently, three big movie projects — Race 3, Bharat and Dabangg 3 — as well as a comeback season of reality TV show Dus Ka Dum are riding on Salman’s shoulders.