A Jodhpur court announced a punishment of 5 years of jail term to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan on Thursday. Earlier on the same day, Salman was found guilty in the 19-year-old blackbuck poaching case.

The other co-accused in the case – Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam and Tabu – were found to be innocent as they were given the benefit of doubt and acquitted from the case.

Salman Khan, who has also been fined Rs 10,000, was sent to Jodhpur Central Jail, following the verdict. The jail already has godman Asaram on charges of rape, Shambhu Lal Raigar – the Rajsamand’s hate-murder accused and gang members of notorious gangster Lawrence Bishnoi who had once earlier issued threats of killing Salman Khan.

“We’ll analyse the judgement. We want an immediate appeal to be filed against those who have been acquitted and we also demand maximum punishment for Salman Khan” said Rampal Bhawad, State President, Bishnoi Tigers Vanya Evam Paryavaran Sanstha referring to the acquittal of the four other Bollywood stars in the case.

On the intervening night of October 1 and 2 in 1998, the actors together with the driver of the jeep that they were travelling in – Dushyant Singh – a local, were allegedly involved in the hunting and killing of two blackbucks in Kankani village in Jodhpur. According to the Wildlife Protection Act, hunting and killing of this animal is prohibited.

The case against Salman was filed under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. Section 51 of the same act along with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code were slapped against Saif Ali Khan and the other actors.

The court case and hearings – which had been going on for the last 19 years, was completed last week at the chief judicial magistrate rural court in Jodhpur.

On the fateful night in 1998, the actors had gone on a hunting expedition resulting in the killing of the two blackbucks while they were there shooting for the film ‘Hum Saath Saath Hai’.

The killing had raised a lot of uproar among the local Bishnoi community who revere the animal and which forced the government to file a case against the actors and Dushyant Singh.

Salman had been earlier acquitted in a case that alleged that the actor had illegally carried and used a fire arm to kill the blackbucks, under the Arms Act. That was a temporary relief for the superstar.

Charges against Salman had also been framed in relation to the alleged hunting and killing of another protected species – chinkaras. In the cases of killing of both the chinkaras, Salman had been acquitted by lower courts which was later upheld at the Rajasthan High Court. The verdict of the High Court has been challenged in the Supreme Court by the state government and the outcome is pending.

It has been reported that the lawyers from Salman have already applied for bail for the actor but that would only be heard tomorrow morning. That means that Salman would have to spend at least one night at the jodhpur jail.

(Adapted from TheTimesofIndia.IndiaTimes.com & hindustanTimes.com)