Salman Khan In Jail for 5 Years (Maybe)

Well, this is news.  Or maybe not.  Salman has been sentenced to jail a lot, and then somehow it ends up not happening, so I just don’t know.

Let me start big picture.  The court system in India is very very slow and very easy to circumvent.  I’m not saying you can bribe your way out of a court case, like the judges are corrupt or anything like that, I’m saying that the system is so slow that you can easily just keep throwing money at appeals until you run out the time and die with the case still unsettled.

For a “regular” wealthy person, a court case will probably never result in jail time.  You will appeal and appeal and appeal, eventually the prosecutors run out of time/money/energy/interest and just let the case drop.  In the worst case, you might finally be convicted and pay a fine.  Or go to jail for a night before being freed.  What you see in the movies isn’t much of an exaggeration, the wealthy landlord of a rural village, or the powerful businessman in a city can just walk in and out of jail.  And unless the media and the public make a big stink about it, the case will just sort of fade away.

The trick of it is, with movie stars, there is an advantage to keeping the case going.  The prosecutors and everyone else get attention from it, Politicians and other public figures weigh in with their opinions, “fading away” is a difficult option.  And so, yes, Salman Khan managed to avoid punishment for a very long time thanks to his privileges as a wealthy person.  But on the other hand, he has gotten more punishment than an equally wealthy person would have gotten because he is a movie star and his name has value.  And the same could be said for a lot of these cases filed against movie stars.  Yes, they broke the law, yes they are getting away with it because of their wealth, but they are also being punished more than a equivalent wealthy person would be.

Jodhpur: Bollywood actor Salman Khan at the court.

So, what is this particular case?  Salman Khan and Sonali Bendre and Saif Ali Khan and Neelam and Tabu were in Jodhpur filming Hum Saath Saath Hain in 1998.  They hired a guide and went out to shoot a blackbuck.  The blackbuck is a sacred animal in Hinduism and ALSO has a long tradition of being hunted in India.  It is illegal to kill blackbucks now, but it was not always and it is not unheard of for them to be killed.  Obviously, if there was a guide and a hunting jeep and guns available, this is something that other visitors to Jodhpur have done before.

Also around Jodhpur is a Bishnoi community.  The Blackbuck is particularly sacred for the Bishnois.  They have started a practice of having spotters on the road, looking for hunters and following and reporting them.  Which, again, indicates that hunting the Blackbuck is something which Salman is not the first or last person to do.  In addition, the Bishnois are a bit of a voting block in the area, there is political advantage to passing and enforcing Blackbuck protection laws, for raising this issue.

What seems almost inarguable from witness accounts is that Salman and his friends, all wealthy outsider film folk, decided to go out Blackbuck hunting as an adventure one night.  A Blackbuck was found dead, presumably killed by them.  Where it gets murky is how this case progressed and was enforced.

Image result for blackbuck

(Pretty animal.  There’s a lot of them in Texas now)

Salman has another court case against him, one in which at the very least he was in a car when it drove over and killed a person.  And at the most he was driving that car.  For that case, he has spent no time in jail, and was eventually cleared of charges.  For this case, in which he killed an animal (who is NOT endangered, the Blackbuck has a “least concern” conservation status), he has been in and out of jail several times.  And has now been sentenced to 5 years in prison.

The human being that Salman killed was a homeless man with no strong community ties, no one to speak for him.  The animal he (supposedly) killed was part of an ancient breed with strong historical ties in the area and a large vocal political group to support it, not for conservation reasons (remember, not endangered) but for reasons of tradition and religion.  It is a respectable animal, a “worthy” animal, not merely a homeless person.

And now, today, the verdict has come down saying that Salman is sentenced to jail for 5 years (the highest possible sentence is 6 years, the lowest 1), while the other 5 people who were present (the other 4 actors and the guide) are let off.

I’m not saying Salman is “innocent”, I’m not saying he didn’t break laws, I’m not even saying he shouldn’t go to jail.  But it is possible to say all of those things and still feel that this case was pushed forward for political and PR reasons more than reasons of “justice”.  Why should Salman be punished more for killing an animal than a human? Why should be be punished more than the other hunters who clearly must have done the same thing, not just the ones with him, but others who visited Jodhpur and supported the hunting economy that was clearly present? Why should he be dragged in and out of court for 20 years rather than the case being settled amicably and simply at a lower charge years ago?  And, most of all, why should he be punished more than the other people with him?

There is a clear bias here.  Not “bias” as in “they are all out to get him!” but “bias” as in “there seems to be a political advantage in pursuing this particular case against this particular person which is not present in pursuing other cases against this same person or this particular case against other people.”

Okay, that’s the background.  What are the details of what happened today?

According to Quint.com (which is really the best source for this kind of coverage, highly highly recommend it!), all the movie stars arrived in Jodhpur and the judge sentenced Salman to 5 years in jail.  With that level of punishment, he was not qualified for bail and so was taken directly to jail.  Where he was issued prisoner number 106 and placed under security.

His lawyer immediately declared that this judgement was unfair and that they would be appealing and having a bail hearing the next day.  His statement below:

We respect the decision of the Hon’ble Court. While we are studying the judgement it just came as a surprise, as the entire investigation, and facts of this case were the same as those for which Salman has been acquitted by the Hon’ble High Court of Rajasthan in two cases, and even by the Hon’ble CJM in the Arms Act matter for the alleged offence on the very same night as is the subject matter of the present case. Also, in the present case the Hon’ble Court has acquitted all the 5 co-accused which would imply that Salman was out hunting alone in the middle of the night in a remote area outside Jodhpur. We have preferred an appeal to the Hon’ble Sessions Court and applied for an urgent hearing today. The Hon’ble Sessions Court will hear the appeal for suspension of the sentence / bail at 10.30 tomorrow.

I’m not sure what will happen from here.  In the past, there has been a quick bail hearing followed by an appeal followed by winning the appeal.  So the pattern may hold again.  Or this could be the case that Salman actually serves jail time for.

For myself, in my personal wishes, I hope that he does not serve jail time.  Because I don’t think 5 years for a poaching case is justice.  For Salman personally, I think 5 years is excessive, 1 year or time served or a heavy fine seems more logical.  And for the community as a whole, I think Salman going to jail would just be a bad thing.  It would scuttle dozens of films in a whole variety of ways and cause enormous financial damages.  It would also cause enormous personal damages to his family and others close to him.

Most of all, I don’t like the message it sends.  I don’t like the idea of cheering on the downfall of a man who is unpopular for a reason not related to his lack of popularity.  If you don’t like Salman because of the rumors of physical abuse, then you should be hoping he goes to trial for that, not for this.  If you don’t like him because of the killing of the homeless person, then want him to go to jail for that, not this.  If you don’t like him because you feel like his life is too easy and he has gotten away with crimes due to his wealth and power, then remember there are many other men in India who have gotten away with far worse crimes.  There is an odd sort of encouragement for a public (I really hate using this word like this) “lynching”.  To take a public figure who has fewer protections or supports than a public figure of a similar status, thanks to his profession and his religion, and use him as a scapegoat to build up a feeling of hatred and excitement-that I do not like.

So I hope this all blows over, again, and Salman’s sentence is reduced to a reasonable level and the public vitriol is stopped before it can begin.

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30 thoughts on “Salman Khan In Jail for 5 Years (Maybe)

    • A friend reminded me that at least at one point, Salman was the only one that a witness actually saw touching a gun. So there is slightly more evidence against him than the others. But the difference between “acquittal” and “5 years in jail” seems like it should have a lot more to it than simply a witness seeing him holding a gun versus seeing the others in a jeep with guns next to them.

      On Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 1:11 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

  1. The Bishnoi community will appeal against the aquittance of the others and Salman will appeal against being found guilty and the extent of the punishment…I also wish that Salman’s sentence is reconsidered but the vitriol is already “sloshed around”.
    It has been different courts in different states and different motives how to handle the alleged/supposed wrong doings of Salman and I really wonder what was going on behind the scenes. Btw, there will be election time in Rajasthan this year…

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    • Exactly. A large fine, even 6 months or a year in jail to set an example, but 5 years seems overly punitive and politically motivated. Yes, the law is on the books allowing for up to 6 years in jail, but I have to think that 6 years was set as the top punishment picturing poaching for profit, someone who had killed dozens of animals and engaged in illegal trade in their hides, something like that. Not a one time joy ride proven by shaky evidence.

      On Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 2:02 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • “endangered” is an actual status that means something. It is not endangered. “Endangered” is the highest level of status, there are only 4 animal breeds in India considered “endangered”. The Blackbuck may be less than it was in the past, but it is not endangered, just as being sick is not the same as having cancer.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No need to worry for Salman. He got away from running over and killing someone while drunk when there was massive evidence against him. Witnesses reported to have gotten threats, disappeared, died, cops would claim they don’t know where Salman himself is so he can’t be presented to the court, etc. He used lots of excuses in court including having a charitable foundation and being in ill health for why he should not go to jail.

    He will get bail by tomorrow. Cops and lower tier officials will make a bundle from bribes and get on TV and get their 15 minutes of fame.

    If something goes massively wrong and he doesn’t get bail by tomorrow, Muslim groups will protest and fans will cause a commotion and he will get bail soon after. Nobody really expects anything to come out of this or out of any of his other crimes.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank goodness, because I bought tickets to see him in June and I was worried I would have to demand a refund if he was in jail 🙂

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    • What I find fascinating is that common sense would dictate the death of a human would be prosecuted and pursued with much more fervor, and yet it is this case, for the poaching of a non-endangered species, which has dragged on much longer and resulted in more actual jail time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When I first started watching “Bollywood” films in 2001 after seeing Lagaan, all the news about Salman Khan was about his cases. So I did not watch any of his films. As I delved my way into more and more of the films, I realized he was an important part of the current history. So I spend close to four years unraveling all the (sometimes conflicting) news stories to try to understand the cases to decide whether it would be OK for me to see his films. At the end of it all I was left in disbelief at why and how any of these cases were even brought to court, based on the evidence. I doubt anyone else will spend that much time, and I’m not really interested in rehashing all the evidence here, because the one thing I learned for sure over this time is that no one is really interested in facts or evidence (and this is true not just about Salman, but about any public issue). People make up their minds based on whatever, and will not change them no matter how much evidence or facts they are shown. So I will not get into a discussion of these cases.

    I do want to protest, Margaret, at your casting the exercising of a citizen’s legal rights (i.e., appealing the decisions of a court verdict) as “getting away” with a crime. Do wealthy people have an advantage over poorer people in availing of their legal rights? Yes, as they do in every country. That does not mean they should not or cannot exercise those rights. And also remember, in India, unlike the U.S., the prosecution can also appeal an acquittal. In fact, in all of the cases where Salman has been acquitted by the High Court (highest court at state level), the prosecution is appealing to the Supreme Court of India. While you’re reflecting on the role money plays in the legal process, you can also reflect on whether this is the best way of spending public money.

    Incidentally, the black buck is not sacred to “Hindus”, it is only sacred to the Bishnois (who are also “Hindus”, but I’m just saying this is more of a local tradition than a nationwide practice. It’s not like the cow being held sacred in “Hinduism”). And also incidentally, the prosecuting attorney and the judge belong to the Bishnoi community, and there are also Bishnoi hunting guides who lead parties of hunters out to hunt the black buck.

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    • I think what bothers me most about the Salman cases is the combination that first, because of his notoriety, cases are being brought against him and then dragged on through appeal after appeal that normally would not even reach a court. Which is not a statement on his “innocence” or “guilt” (whatever that means in this case), and I think you are saying the same thing, whether or not you believe Salman to be guilty of the charges or innocent, there is also the simple fact that the evidence just does not justify prosecution, which means he is clearly being prosecuted because of the value of his name. And then on the other hand, he is (unfairly) being painted as being privileged.

      Yes, he is very wealthy and can afford lawyers and appeals which other people cannot. But if he were just a regular person, he wouldn’t need to appeal, because the cases would either never have been brought or would have been settled simply.

      I feel like somehow Salman is being made a lightening rode for all that frustration at people who “get away” with things, which is completely undeserved. And serves the purpose of drawing fire away from people far more deserving of that hatred. Whether it is editorial pages being wasted, public ire, or the prosecutions limited funds, it should not be spent on this small poaching case with limited evidence for 20 years, instead of (for instance) on all the elected officials accused of rape, or on massive graft cases, or on those accused of inciting riots. All kinds of terrible crimes that are more deserving of attention.

      On Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 3:45 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Pingback: Salman Khan In Jail for 5 Years (Maybe) — dontcallitbollywood – Business Startup-Bay Area

  5. Either ways he still deserves to go to jail for killing a innocent human being like sanjay dutt went to jail for some time and comes back does his work and goes back to jail and his case wasnt even a murder so why cant salman serve his time in jail its because of his extreme fans who threaten that they will commit suicide if he does go to jail and ofcourse the corrupted system

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Your argument that other wealthy people get away with extending court cases until they are not held liable, is not a good argument for letting Salman Khan off. Shouldn’t you be arguing that as a highly visible case, he should be held liable in order to start a precedent?

    Two wrongs to not make a right, etc.

    I do not buy the argument that because he sells movies and it affects commerce for him to be in jail, that he should not have to serve time for a crime! By this argument, noone who has a significant hand in running a company should go to jail. Systems should be trying to make justice more evenhanded everywhere, not shrugging our shoulders and settling for less.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Excellent points. Let me put it another way, I don’t find the argument that “Salman is getting away with it because he is a movie star” logical. He is in fact NOT getting away with it because he is a movie star. If he were a wealthy man who was not also famous, this case would have been finished years ago. And I am afraid that the precedent being set is not that wealthy men can be brought to justice, but rather that famous people can be prosecuted endlessly in an effort to grab headlines, while other cases are forgotten and the movie stars are hounded beyond any reasonable punishment.

      To my mind, accepting that Salman will be sentenced to 5 years for poaching is the “less”. I would want a justice system that does not overly punish the individual in order to grab headlines, but rather punishes justly without regard to status.

      On Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 9:35 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. ‘I would want a justice system that does not overly punish the individuals in order to grab headlines, but rather punished justly without regard to status’…and I am Hella, the goddess of Death!Where do you think all this is happening? In Utopia? This is happening in India my dear where noises are made for agendas, law is NOT equal for all & things are faaaar from ideal. You feel for Salman getting punished for so long for being famous. There are millions of others who go through the same grind of spending time in & out of court for years & years not because they are famous or rich, but sadly that’s how the system works here. Getting a simple loan approved by a bank manager can take months if the manager doesn’t like your face.So he’s not punished for being rich. If he wanted, he could have settled this case looooong back.Your other grouse is people taking advantage of him to gain popularity. Big deal! His stupid movies run cos of his popularity ,consider this as the other side of fame. Thirdly him getting punished for a minor crime when he got away with something far more serious. In the ideal justice system that you hoped for, he would have been punished for the manslaughter, derailing the whole justice system. But he got away with that & abused the system. In our belief system karma catches up with you-sooner or later. I, like the rest of the
    ‘lynching crowd’ would like to think he’s paying(it won’t be long, but even for one night is good enough)for what he got away with. This is salve to the outrage & helplessness all of us felt when he made bail in 3 straight hours after being convicted by the lower court in the hit & run case. So as idealistic as your arguments are for judging the system, it does read like one of the several outrage messages that his fans has been throwing around when things don’t go as planned for their star. Btw I’m going to pretend you didn’t mean what you said about film business getting affected because he’s in jail cos that’s as frivolous a concern as there can ever be.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe I am idealistic, but if all I am doing is giving my opinion (with no power to enforce it) on a public event, then I am going to call for justice in the justice system rather than accepting it is unfair. If the system is broken, that is the fault of the system, not the fault of the person being caught within it. Two wrongs don’t make a right, breaking the system of justice to punish him to extremes is still breaking the system. And I can say that without being a Salman “fan” or being emotional or anything else.

      As for the film business being affected, this is something that it is common for justice systems to take into account when meting out punishment. Not necessary film business, but the toll imprisonment will take on people besides the prisoner (do they support multiple relatives, are they caring for children, etc. etc.). It is part of an argument at a bail hearing that a lawyer will make, and part of a judge’s sentencing decision. I believe Sanjay was able to delay imprisonment for a couple months in order to complete his business responsibilities because of this kind of argument (although I could be wrong about that). I’m not worried about Salman’s films being hits or anything like that, I am talking about how him going to jail with no warning or preparation for it will bankrupt people, and put several hundred of folks out of work. A more lenient sentence, or offering him bail while he completed his responsibilities and returned in a few months, would make more sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You know, I often find people quoting the ‘two wrongs..’ line when they want to condemn something that they themselves are guilty for and generally when things don’t go in their favour. Also in a place where getting the system to work perfectly is next to impossible, the frustrated Indians-who,like you ,don’t have any power to enforce their opinions/will-will celebrate the wrong that comes out of it, if that wrong feels at least slightly right. Like God, our system also works in mysterious ways!

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  8. People keep talking about election year and voting bloc as if they are bad things. Bishnoi being a voting bloc helped them pursue the case against someone as powerful as Salman. This year being election year gave them voice.
    Killing for pleasure vs killing for profit!! Which one do you think deserves bigger punishment?

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    • To mention it, is not stating that it is “a bad thing”, it is just giving an information for getting more of the ‘picture’.
      In addition, I think I did not read any comment here that wanted Salman getting out of his wrongdoings without having to bear the consequences (far too often he had not).
      It was election year when Salman did the hunting but nothing substantial happened…it is absolutely okay that finally he was prosecuted.
      We will see the outcome of the different appeals (from Salman’s side against the result of the trial, form the bishnois’ side against the acquittal of the four others)…maybe rather quickly, maybe in some years…

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  9. ‘To take a public figure who has fewer protections or supports than a public figure of a similar status, thanks to his profession and his religion, and use him as a scapegoat to build up a feeling of hatred and excitement-that I do not like.’..Saif & Tabu also qualify for the two conditions you are assuming for Salman’s prosecution.So wdnt the frustrated Indians have more excitement & happiness at the ‘downfall’ of three famous scapegoats than one? Salman’s religion & profession did not prove an obstacle in his several trysts with law-until now. Why are you giving an unnecessary communal & poor-hates-rich&famous color to this? Tomorrow when he makes bail will you redact this statement?

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  10. lawyer friend tells me the quantum of punishment in high visibility cases is often exaggerated (you’re likely to see a sentence leaning towards the higher side rather than the lower side) at the lower levels of the judicial system because that’s where the majority of the low visibility cases (those involving the general public) get their tone set. ie, a regular tourist gets caught in this and he gets a lighter, bailable sentence with the advantage of the appeals process to lean back on and then such laws lose their potency and then the same judge at the lower level has a pile of similar cases on his roster till the end of time. Everyone knows the process and a lot of the fuss is for show.

    The important part is that everyone now knows that you can’t go hunting illegally no matter how cool the guide says it is. That’s how a whole bunch of animals ended up on the endangered list in india. because tourists are stupid and guides just want to make money off of them.

    Also, cases in india get “fixed” at the investigation level. Not at the level of the judiciary level. Not saying judges never get bribed, but it’s super rare and noone would be willing to stake their career for a celebrity. The judiciary has become especially wary of fucking up cases after the Jessica Lal protests.

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