Jodhpur: Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was sentenced to five years of imprisonment by a court here on Thursday in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case, while the other four co-accused stars -- Sonali Bendre, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu and Neelam -- were acquitted of all charges.
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".
The actor is being taken to Jodhpur Central Jail. If the sentence was less than three years of jail, the actor could have applied for bail in the same court. However, he will now have to approach the sessions court for bail.
The actor's case was represented by defence counsel Hastimal Saraswat. The judgement was pronounced by Chief Justice Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri at a hearing attended by Salman's sisters Alvira and Arpita.
The trial of the case was in progress since the last 19 years and the judge in a court here had reserved the order after the final arguments on March 28.
Jeev Raksha Bishnoi Sabha has protested against the decision of acquitting the other accused stars. Their acquittal will be challenged in the high court, said Shivraj Bishnoi, state president of the organisation.
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.