Salman Khan acquitted in Jodhpur for Arms Act case, but why are we surprised?

Sandipan Sharma

Jan,18 2017 13:46:49 IST

JK Rowling must have invented the invisibility cloak only for Salman Khan.

He goes around driving vehicles allegedly in a drunken stupor, mows down people sleeping on a pavement. But, the law can't see him.On a full moon night, Bhai gets behind the wheel of a gypsy, chases protected wildlife in the Thar Desert till the hearts of his prey start bursting. Then, after allegedly wounding them with gunshots, he slices their neck with a sharp knife.

Yet, he goes past the eyes of the law unnoticed. Like Potter gliding through the locked chambers of Hogwarts in an invisibility cloak.

Bollywood actor Salman Khan. PTI

Bollywood actor Salman Khan. PTI

It is now established that two things about Salman Khan are written in tablets of iron. One, every time his film is released, it will get a 100-crore opening. Two, every time his case comes up for hearing in a court, he will be released.

The outcome of the latest court case against Salman — for illegally possessing firearms — was almost expected. A few months ago, the Rajasthan High Court had absolved him of charges of killing black bucks during the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hain in Jodhpur in October 1998.

After 18 years of trial that must have cost Salman Khan at least half the money his films earn in the first week, the court concluded that Salman had not killed the animals. (They may have died of happiness on finding the star amidst them).

So, if nobody had killed the black bucks, how could  Salman have been accused of possessing firearms that were used for poaching? And if no weapons were used, how could have Salman possessed them illegally? Salman not guilty. QED.

There is no point ranting against the prosecution's inability to get the actor convicted in spite of clinching evidence. The investigation was compromised from the very beginning as many powerful politicians and bureaucrats in successive state governments worked as the actor's B-team. In fact, the then minister of environment and forest — whose department had lodged FIRs against Salman — behaved like the star's mater familias, not just in real life but also on the screen, bagging a few acting assignments for herself and getting her daughter to sing in films. Salman, on his part, danced on the streets of Jaipur at a wedding in the minister's family.

So, when the prosecutor struts around as the defence lawyer, what's there to worry?

Salman has one more case pending against him in the court (there were four originally) for alleged poaching of endangered species in Jodhpur. But, it would be almost a travesty of injustice if he gets sentenced. In all likelihood, Salman would be a free bird in a few months, his slate wiped clean of the bloodstains of animals and humans he allegedly killed.

The only people who would regret his acquittal are the lawyers, and some key witnesses, who became overnight millionaires by feasting on Salman's fears and vulnerabilities.

It would be futile, of course, to rant against the criminal justice system. It doesn't need a Salman to remind us how it is loaded in favour of those with influence and money. When Salman was booked for poaching in Jodhpur, the case appeared to be water-tight. There were several eyewitness accounts and forensic evidences that looked irrefutable.

When he was caught, there were reports that Jodhpur villagers had caught him flagrante delicto (busy in the act) and had chased the star and his companions out of Jodhpur forests. But, somebody must have waved a magic wand to make them all disappear. Or, maybe, someone cast a spell that rewrote memories of so many people, made them all mute witnesses to a crime that had just one perpetrator.

Or, may be the rumour mongers were right. In October 1998, when Salman was booked for poaching, several conspiracy theories had surfaced. All of them seemed implausible back then. But, now that he has been acquitted, let us revisit the theory that sounded scandalous at that time.

Back then, Salman's camp claimed the actor was being framed for ignoring the advances of the scion of a powerful Jodhpur family. That the case was nothing but the wrath of a young, beautiful and a powerful woman slighted. Hell hath no fury for Salman like a woman scorned in her own backyard, the gossip mongers concluded.

With a series of acquittals in Salman's pocket, it is now impossible to believe anything — to separate evidence from rumour, crime from a revenge saga, a Quentin Tarantino-isque drama that went horribly wrong for India's leading star.

It was a job our courts and investigators were supposed to do. But then they could not spot Salman committing those crimes in broad daylight.

Perhaps Salman actually had the invisibility cloak. Or, Amitabh Bachchan was right when he sang that famous song: Ye Andhaa Kanoon hai!

Published Date: Jan 18, 2017 13:46 PM | Updated Date: Jan 18, 2017 13:46 PM