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Salman walks free from jail on Rs50,000 bail

JODHPUR: An Indian court on Saturday granted bail to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan so he can contest a five-year prison sentence for killing endangered wildlife nearly two decades ago.

Khan, one of the world’s highest paid actors, was imprisoned on Thursday after a court found him guilty of killing rare antelopes known as black bucks on a hunting trip while shooting a movie in 1998.

Khan’s team will now finish the paperwork and the actor is expected to be released by 7 pm. He will have to furnish Rs 50000 as surety bond.

Mahesh Bora, a lawyer for Khan, told reporters a judge had signed a bail form. Media reports said the 52-year-old action movie star should leave Jodhpur Central Jail before the end of the day.

Salman Khan jailed for five years in blackbuck poaching case continuing since two decades.

Khan, one of the Indian movie industry’s most bankable stars, was convicted by a court in Rajasthan state of poaching the rare antelopes known as black bucks in 1998.

Hundreds of police were deployed outside the courtroom in Jodhpur to keep back fans who massed to support the actor best known for his macho roles.

Four other Bollywood actors — Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam Kothari — were also accused of partaking in the hunting trip but were acquitted for lack of evidence.

“Salman Khan has been convicted under the wildlife protection act and the rest of the stars have been acquitted,” prosecutor Mahipal Bishnoi told reporters.

Khan, known for his tough guy roles in Hindi films, has accused the state’s forest department of framing him over the black buck case.

No stranger to controversy, Khan was cleared in 2015 of killing a homeless man in a hit-and-run accident in 2002. That decision is now being challenged in the Supreme Court.

Indian courts can often take years — and sometimes decades — to pronounce verdicts.

But the off-screen drama has done little to dampen his appeal, with Khan one of Bollywood’s biggest draws.

According to Forbes, he made $37 million in yearly earnings to finish second behind Shah Rukh Khan in 2017 Bollywood rankings.

Both the Khans are among the top 10 most highly paid actors in the world.

The Bollywood heartthrob’s latest blockbuster “Tiger Zinda Hai” (Tiger is alive) collected some $85 million worldwide.

In 1998 while shooting for the movie ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’ in Rajasthan, Salman allegedly went on a shooting expedition along with Saif, Neelam, Bendre, and Tabu, and is believed to have killed two blackbucks in Jodhpur’s Kankani village.

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