JODHPUR, Apr 7:
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan today walked out of the Jodhpur jail after a sessions court here granted him bail in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case in which he was given a five-year prison sentence.
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Immediately after his release, 52-year-old Khan, who spent two nights in the jail, was driven under police escort to the Jodhpur airport from where he was flown to Mumbai in a special plane, a police official said.
Khan was allowed to leave the jail after the prison authorities received the bail documents, the official said. The actor’s long-time bodyguard Shera accompanied him to the airport.
Hundreds of the actor’s fans, who gathered outside the Jodhpur Central Jail, burst fire crackers and sang songs from his films as he walked out of the prison. The police had made tight security arrangements.
The fans, who were carrying garlanded posters of Khan, raised slogans like “Salman zindabad”, “Salman tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hai”. A few fans even chased the actor’s cavalcade for some distance. Earlier, they had gathered outside the court and celebrated the grant of bail by bursting crackers.
In his order, District and Sessions Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi also allowed Khan’s application for suspension of sentence for a month against his conviction.
Khan, who was lodged in the Jodhpur jail after his sentencing on Thursday, was granted bail on a bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties of like amount, defence counsel Mahesh Bora said.
The judge asked the actor to appear before the court after a month on May 7 when it will hear his plea for suspension of sentence. He also directed Khan not to leave the country without the court’s permission.
Meanwhile, the Bishnoi community, which reveres the blackbuck, has decided to move the Rajasthan High Court challenging the bail granted to Khan, according to Ram Niwas, the secretary of the Bishnoi Tiger Force.
In its 10-page bail order, the court said the trial judge acquitted his Bollywood colleagues Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre and a local, Dushyant Singh, giving them the “benefit of doubt” for the incident.
It also cited the differences in the post-mortem reports of the blackbucks with the first saying there was no gunshot injury while second stating that the animals were killed by gunshots.
Judge Joshi said during the trial, Khan had never misused any condition.
He also said he was earlier granted bail in the Mathania Ghoda Farm case in which he was sentenced to five years in prison for killing a blackbuck. Later, the high court had acquitted him in the case.
Similarly, he was acquitted by the trial court last year in the Bhawad poaching case in which he was accused of killing two chinkara gazelles, the court said.
It said the High Court had also raised suspicion over the recovery of a Gypsy car, pellets and arms from the actor in the two other poaching cases against him.
The judge also said the complaint of lone eyewitness Poonam Chand on October 2, 1998, was submitted to the court by the forest department six days later on October 8.
Earlier in the day, the judge heard the arguments of the prosecution and the defence which lasted about an hour and pronounced the order around 3 pm, a defence counsel said.
Khan’s sisters – Alvira and Arpita – were present during the hearing, besides Shera.
The actor was convicted by a trial court and sentenced to five years in prison for killing two blackbucks during the shooting of “Hum Saath Saath Hain” in Kankani village near Jodhpur on the night of October 1, 1998.
In a late night development, an order was issued to transfer Joshi to Sirohi, as part of a reshuffle. He was among 134 judges transferred by the high court registrar general.
The judge had yesterday reserved his decision on Khan’s bail plea till today after hearing arguments on the suspension of sentence and the bail application. While defence counsel Bora had argued for Khan’s bail in the court yesterday, public prosecutor Pokar Ram Bishnoi had opposed the plea.
After Khan was granted bail, his friends and well-wishers from the film industry expressed their happiness over the decision.
Director of Salman’s upcoming film “Race 3” Remo D’Souza said, “I am happy that he has got bail. After working with him so closely I have become a huge fan of him not only as an actor but also as a human being.”
“Almost 90 per cent of the shoot for ‘Race 3’ is over and the remaining portions will mostly be shot in India,” he said.
Producer of “Race 3” Ramesh Taurani said he is “happy” that the actor has come out of the jail.
Khan’s “Dabangg” co-actor Sonu Sood tweeted, “A Good deed is the best Prayer. Welcome brother Salman Khan.”
Singer Adnan Sami, who composed the music of Khan’s “Lucky: No Time for Love”, said, “So happy for the bail of my dear brother Salman Khan . Relieved. Come home. JAI HO!” (PTI)
JODHPUR, Apr 7: