Blackbucks are an endangered species and are protected under Indian wildlife law.
Jaipur: Bollywood superstar Salman Khan told a Jodhpur court on Friday that he has been falsely accused of killing two blackbucks during the shooting of a movie in 1998 in the Rajasthan district.
The next hearing is on February 15 when the defence will present its case. Blackbucks are an endangered species and are protected under Indian wildlife law.
Actors Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam are co-accused in the case. They and Dushyant Singh, a local accused of helping them in the hunt, were also present in the court of the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) to record statements. Another local, Ganware, has been on the run.
The court asked Salman 65 questions about the charges framed, but he pleaded innocent. The others also said they were innocent.
“I am innocent and falsely implicated by the forest department for the sake of publicity,” the actor reportedly said in his statement. “Only the first forensic report saying that the animals died of ‘natural causes’ was true, and the rest of the evidence is false,” he said.
Salman is the main accused in the case, while the others are co-accused for allegedly instigating the actor.
CJM Dalpat Singh Rajpurohit who had acquitted the 51-year-old actor in a related case of firearms asked, “You claim innocence, but you were seen by two people who said they saw you shoot the blackbucks.”
Standing between his lawyers from Mumbai and others, the actor once again answered in one word, “Galat.”
According to reports, when the court said that his jeep was found with bloodstains and hair of the blackbucks, the superstar again replied in just one word “false”. “You went shooting at night?” the court asked. “False”, he said, adding that he didn’t step out of his hotel.
Earlier, Salman said he was an Indian, in reply to a question about his religion. During the hearing of the arms Act case in 2016, the actor had given a similar reply. “I am Salman Khan and I am an Indian,” he had said when asked about his name and caste.
Saif, Sonali, Tabu and Neelam were asked 61 questions. The court completed recording the statement of all the actors.
“The next hearing is on February 15,” Salman’s lawyer Hastimal Saraswat said. The defence will present its case that day.
Salman had arrived with fellow stars on Thursday following a court order. He spent close to one hour in the court and left immediately after his statement was recorded.
There were three cases of poaching and one case of the Arms Act against him. He has already been acquitted in two poaching cases by the high court against which the state government has moved the Supreme Court. On January 18, the same court before which he appeared on Friday had acquitted him in the firearms case.