Blackbuck killings: Salman pleads not guilty

Jodhpur (Rajasthan), March 10 (IANS) Bollywood actor Salman Khan on Thursday insisted that he had been wrongly accused of having illegal weapons and killing two blackbucks here in 1998.

“Main nirdosh hoon. Mujhe jhootha fasaya gaya hai. (I am not guilty. I have been falsely implicated),” the actor told Chief Judicial Magistrate Dalpat Singh Rajpurohit.

Asked about the allegations by the prosecution, Salman pleaded that he was “not guilty”.

Salman has been accused of using illegal arms to kill the protected animals and carrying weapons with expired licence. He has been charged with violating the Arms Act.

Thursday was the third time Salman came to the Jodhpur court in connection with the case.

Khan’s counsel Hastimal Sarswat told IANS: “The court has fixed April 4 as the next date of hearing.” He said witnesses will be produced in Salman’s defence.

During the hearing, Salman replied questions regarding his name, father’s name, his age and residential address.

Asked about his caste, the actor was silent for a while before replying that he was an Indian.

Salman’s sister Alvira was present in the court, where the actor spent less than half an hour.

Salman and a few Bollywood actors have been accused of poaching the blackbucks on the night of October 1-2, 1998 when he was here to shoot the Hindi movie “Hum Saath Saath Hain”.

Two blackbucks, a protected animal under the Wildlife Protection Act, were killed on the outskirts of Kankani village near Jodhpur. The killings triggered outrage.

The court asked several questions regarding the allegations made by the prosecution’s witnesses. Salman denied all the charges.

Khan said he was neither with Shivcharan Bohra, the then forest officer, nor did he sign any document.

Asked about the statement of Uday Raghavan, who allegedly brought weapons for Salman from the actor’s Mumbai residence, Khan said although the letter authorizing Raghavan to collect the weapons bears his signature, he was forced to sign it.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Rajpurohit had on March 3 asked Salman to appear before the court to record his statement on Thursday.

The magistrate had dismissed an application from Salman’s counsel to re-examine then collector Rajat Mishra.

The court was to pronounce its judgment on February 25 last year but this was deferred when a few applications for examination of four witnesses were allowed.

After examination of four witnesses, Salman appeared before the court on April 29 last year.

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