Blackbuck poaching case: 'Salman Khan sentenced because he's a minority,' says Pakistan foreign minister Khwaja Asif

Pakistan foreign minister Khwaja Asif says that actor Salman Khan was sentenced to five years in jail by a Jodhpur court on Thursday in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case because he is a member of the minority community.

"Salman has been sentenced because he's a minority," the Pakistan foreign minister told Geo News during his appearance in the channel's programme Capital Talk.

 Blackbuck poaching case: Salman Khan sentenced because hes a minority, says Pakistan foreign minister Khwaja Asif

File image of Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif. Reuters

"Maybe if he belonged to the religion of the ruling party of India he would not have been given such a harsh sentence and the court might have been lenient with him," Asif added.

While Asif's statement is likely to make news headlines both in India and Pakistan, the Pakistan foreign minister seems to have failed to comprehend that while Salman was sentenced to five years in jail, co-accused Saif Ali Khan and Tabu, both from the minority community as well, were acquitted (along with three others) giving them the "benefit of doubt".

But then Asif is known to make such tirades against India. In the past, he had threatened to nuke India in 2016 after New Delhi handed over proof of Pakistan's involvement in the 2016 Uri attack. "We will destroy India if it dares to impose war on us. Pakistan army is fully prepared to answer any misadventure of India," he had said.

In Pakistan, Asif is not particularly popular either. In fact, just last month, when ink was thrown at the Pakistan foreign minister during a  Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) workers' convention at Sialkot in Pakistan, Asif said, "Someone gave him some money and sent him to throw ink at me but release him because I don't have any enmity with him."

On Thursday, Asif was criticised on Twitter soon after making the absurd statement linking Salman Khan's conviction with his religious identity. Twitterati hurled a series of questions to Asif about his remarks including the sentence handed to Sanjay Dutt and Pakistan's ban on two Salman films — Ek Tha Tiger and its sequel Tiger Zinda Hai.

At the end, Asif's comment on Salman's conviction is just another anti-India tirade from the Pakistan foreign minister.

Salman and the other five were accused of killing two blackbucks in Kankani village near Jodhpur on the night of 1 October, 1998, while shooting for the film Hum Saath Saath Hain.

Blackbuck, from the antelope family, is an endangered animal and included in the schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act-1972.

According to prosecution lawyer Mahipal Bishnoi, the actors were in a Maruti Gypsy that night with Salman in the driving seat. He spotted a herd of blackbucks and killed two of them, Bishnoi says.

Final arguments in the blackbuck case were completed in the trial court on 28 March.

In his verdict, Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri sentenced Salman Khan with five years of imprisonment and imposed a Rs 10,000 fine after finding him guilty under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, which prescribes a maximum punishment of six years behind bars.

"The accused is a popular actor whose deeds are followed by people. Despite this, the accused hunted two blackbucks," said Khatri wrote in his judgment.

Salman spent the first night in the jail on Thursday, however, a hearing on a bail plea is scheduled to take place today at 10.30 am.

Click here for live updates on the blackbuck poaching case.

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Updated Date: Apr 06, 2018 10:23:44 IST