It would have been dead of old age by now.
That Salman and company shot the deer 18 years ago is pretty much an accepted truism.
The Jodhpur court ruling that Khan be given the benefit of doubt makes one wonder where the doubt is? Unless the chinkara died of fear or was so overwhelmed by the star’s presence the bullet wound in his body would have wiped out any doubt that it was slain by gunfire. Bullets have a funny way of leaving the barrel of a weapon and striking the target they were meant for. The slug can also be traced back to the weapon and through its rifling and the groove marks be 100 percent identified as to which weapon it was chambered into.
It took eighteen years to get to this point and underscore the doubt. Says very little for our justice system but in a nation where ‘shikar’ not so long ago was an accepted practice of the royals, the zamindars, the nawabs, the armed forces and the landed gentry and sundry VIPs the harassment and mental agony of 18 years certainly serves as a severe and undeserved penalty and punishment for this actor. Just the pressure of never knowing if you are going to be locked up and being shunted from town to town makes the dues paid for his crime paid in full and with pernicious interest.
We go into depression if a bank calls about an overdue credit card payment by a day. A missed EMI sends us into a panic.
For 18 years we hounded this man just to let him off the hook with timid dispensation.
The hypocrisy is astounding. And widespread. On the way to Shimla you pass a town called Solan. On one of the U turns one used to get the finest venison and partridge pickle in the world. It probably still is available even though to the chosen few.
The armed forces regularly shot down sambhars and cheetals for a bara khana (feast) for the brigade commander and they often used semi-automatic weapons fired into the herd. Plump black or brown partridge may be officially banned but are probably trapped and still served on executive and government officials’ tables. If fish was on the menu the use of a 90 grenade in a pond would stun a few dozen freshwater fish in a balloon of water caused by the explosion and also destroy the eco-system of that pond which probably took years to form.
No one thought anything of these exercises. From Jhansi to Gwalior to Jabalpur to the forests of Rajasthan to the foothills of Kumaon, Jammu Tawi and Udhampur, from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh’s lush forests hunting was a sport.
You did not have to like it but it was a sport.
Even the laws are archaic. Shooting deer may be illegal but the nilgai which is now classified as vermin for the crops it destroys is running riot because of the security in its name. it is not bovine cattle, but belongs to the antelope family. In 2016 Bihar ordered wild boar and nilgai to be culled because of their nuisance. Woe betide anyone who might shoot a nilgai especially if it becomes a caste thing. Try explaining that National Geographic calls it an antelope when the lynch mob is stringing you up.
Certainly, a law was broken in Salman Khan’s case but you have to be particularly vindictive to think he should be punished further.
Eighteen years of harassment for suspected killing of a deer.
In a country where the walls of every lodge, every ‘bara sahib’ club, every armed forces ‘koi hai’ mess are covered with the heads and skins of wildlife this robbery of a man’s peace of mind is an injustice in itself.