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Salman will surrender on Monday: Lawyer
August 24, 2007 20:48 IST
Amid speculation about actor Salman Khan's [Images] whereabouts after a Jodhpur court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him, the star's lawyer said he was in Mumbai and would surrender to authorities in Rajasthan on Monday.
Salman did not appear before the sessions court in Jodhpur which dismissed his appeal against a five-year prison term in a poaching case as there was no directive to be present, his lawyer Deepesh Mehta said.
"The (court's) order is 76 pages long. We will read it and file a revision application in the Rajasthan High Court on Monday, following which Salman will travel with me to Jodhpur to surrender," Mehta said outside the actor's residence.
Calls to Salman's residence were not entertained and most of his friends remained incommunicado after it became clear that he faced arrest. Speculation was rife that Salman had left Mumbai on Thursday night and gone to Hyderabad.
The Jodhpur police said they would send teams to arrest Salman.
"We are prepared to send our teams to arrest Salman. As soon as we get the NBW issued by the court, teams will move out (to arrest him)," Additional Superintendent of Police Sawai Singh Godara said.
Earlier, Jodhpur's district and sessions judge K R Singhvi upheld the five-year jail term given to Salman by a lower court in 2006 for poaching an endangered chinkara in 1999 during the shooting of a film in Rajasthan.
Though Salman is a resident of Mumbai, he will have to approach the Rajasthan High Court and not the Bombay High Court for relief of any sort, chief public prosecutor Satish Borulkar said
In his 76-page judgment, Judge Singhvi said no court could avoid the circumstantial evidence available on record against Salman. Circumstantial evidence is important in this case as it constitutes a chain that "loudly says a crime was committed", he said. Singhvi said convictions were made only on solid proof. If the chief judicial magistrate's court acquitted Salman for some crimes, that did not mean that the star did not commit the crime of poaching a chinkara, he said.
Salman's counsel could not prove how the judgment against the actor was biased, the judge said.
"The learned judge gave his judgment after considering all the material available on record with judicial wisdom and hard work," Singhvi said.
The court also allowed an appeal filed by one Gordhan Singh, who was convicted along with Salman and given one-year prison term and fined Rs 5,000. Deepesh Mehta, a Bombay-based lawyer, who appeared in the sessions court on behalf of Salman, said, "We are going to file the revision petition immediately in the high court as it is the right of every citizen."
Mahipal Vishnoi, a lawyer for the Vishnoi community that campaigns for the protection of endangered wildlife, said it would oppose any move by Salman to appeal in the high court.
The state public prosecutor said, "We knew that justice will prevail and Salman will be sentenced. We were always confident of that."
Animal rights organisations and conservationists are happy.
"I am very happy that they have set an example for the rest of the people. It is because he (Khan) is rich and he is a celebrity, he is not in jail already," former Union minister and environmentalist Maneka Gandhi said. She also accused Salman of trying to "influence" witnesses.
Belinda Wright, Wildlife Protection Society, said somebody as popular and as influential as Salman Khan had the responsibility to not break the law, but he did. "It certainly is a very strong message to everybody that one cannot just go out and break the law," Wright said.
"Wildlife conservation is an important issue in India and we have laws that are in place," Wright added.
Bollywood personalities, on the other hand, were concerned about the impact of the verdict on the industry. "I am not feeling good about what has happened. It is being considered as a kind of crisis for the industry," actress and Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Prada said, also referring to the Sanjay Dutt [Images] case. "I just hope industry comes out of this crisis. It has come under an eclipse. This is really sad."
"Salman is a good human being. If such a wrong thing happens over such an issue, it will be a matter of concern. It will be a matter of nothing fails like success," actor-MP Govinda [Images] said.
"I will not deny that some time controversies are created. How much truth is there in the controversies is itself an issue," he said.