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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Deer - black buck and Chinkara .. .. and the crime of killing the meek


Deer -  blackbuck and Chinkara !    Deer have a peculiar problem ! Unlike human pupils, which are round and when dilated do not span much of the eye, deer pupils are elliptical (like a cat’s) and can dilate to cover the entire width of the orb.  Since deer  have  larger  pupils, more dilated, more amount of light reaching  the retina due to their larger lens,  they often become dazed when faced with powerful headlights of vehicle, causing them to freeze and eventually die too ~ yet, they do not commit suicide and often men are its most devastating predators.



Blackbuck and chinkara may look similar, but they are actually of entirely different.  Blackbuck are a type of antelope, whereas chinkara are a type of gazelle.   The most prominent difference between antelopes and deer is that male deer have antlers which they shed and grow every year while antelopes have horns that are permanent. Another difference is that deer antlers are branched and antelope horns are not. Antelopes belong to family Bovidae (as do sheep, goat and cattle), while deer belong to family Cervidae. The blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is an ungulate species of antelope native to the Indian subcontinent that has been classified as near threatened by IUCN since 2003, as its range has decreased sharply during the 20th century. How and why is that called hunting …. Deers are most meek and how can  killing them with fire arms be considered valour ?   The powerful and influential people want special treatment everywhere …. 

In 2014,  actor Salman Khan was quoted as saying - 'I'm not asking for a government job, I just want to travel to the UK!' .. .. that was when the Supreme Court 'prima-facie', insisted that it cannot stay his conviction in the 1998 black buck poaching case to enable him to travel to the UK for a film shoot. Among a slew of reasons the Bench gave not to stay the conviction, head Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyay gave the most hard-hitting, stating: "You say you are facing hardship and difficulty in discharging professional duties because you won't get a UK visa if the conviction is not suspended. The report stated that Salma Khan already had the sentences for his poaching convictions suspended, but that's not enough to gain him entrance to the UK for filming. The court said that if a country, like the UK, did not allow him in and insisted on suspension of conviction, the Supreme Court does not have the jurisdiction to issue any directions to that country and Salman's 'remedy lie somewhere else' and he could 'move a court in the UK'. Under British immigration rules, any person convicted for more than four years is not eligible for a visa and his passport is stamped with the word 'convict'. Khan had been  sentenced to one-year and five-year terms in separate cases of poaching of two Chinkaras at Bhawad and one black buck at Ghoda Farm (Mathania) in 1998.

Today (5th Apr 2018) there was no respite as Bollywood actor Salman Khan was convicted of poaching blackbucks in Rajasthan in 1998 under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 by a Jodhpur court.  He was sentenced to five years in jail. The other accused in the case, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre, were acquitted after getting the benefit of doubt. The actor arrived at Jodhpur Central Jail on Thursday afternoon. He will undergo a medical examination there before being held in jail overnight. If the sentence had been less than three years, the actor could have applied for bail in the same court. However, he will now have to approach the sessions (higher) court for bail.

The actor's case was represented by defence counsel Hastimal Saraswat. The judgment was pronounced by Chief Justice Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri at a hearing attended by Salman's sisters Alvira and Arpita. The trial of the case had been  in progress since the last 19 years and the judge had reserved the order after the final arguments on 28 March. Salman is likely to be housed with self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, who was sent to jail after being convicted of rape, and allegedly received preferential VIP treatment in prison.

The actor's legal counsel Anand Desai among other things commented on the Court acquitting all the 5 co-accused stating that it could imply that Salman was out hunting alone in the middle of the night in a remote area outside Jodhpur. The options for Salman to get out of serving prison time are limited. According to reports, the police have issued an arrest warrant for the actor and he will be taken into custody soon.  Salman was facing charges under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. All the actors were in a Gypsy car on the night of 1 October, 1998 that night, with Salman in the driving seat. He spotted a herd of blackbucks and killed two of them, the lawyer said. The prosecution had demanded maximum punishment for the actor which is six years.

The Bishnoi Sabha, which has been the primary complainant, in this case, has decided to appeal against the acquittal of the other four actors and said they will move a higher court.  After the incident came to light in October 1998, it was the Bishnoi villagers who registered a complaint against Salman and his four co-actors. They also registered a complaint against the Bollywood star for allegedly poaching chinkaras earlier in the same year. And when Salman was acquitted by the Rajasthan High Court in 2016 of poaching chinkaras, the Bishnois prepared to move Supreme Court. However, while that case verdict hasn't been challenged yet, the buck hasn't stopped for the community.

Among the voices after his arrest was Rajya Sabha MP, Jaya Bachchan who said - "I feel bad. He should be given relief. He has done a lot of humanitarian work,"  - so if some one has donated money for social cause, they are entitled to making certain crimes / ,istakes.  Salman's co-star in Hum Saath Saath Hain Alok Nath said that he cannot speak against the judgment. "It's a little tragic that it came after 20 years. Instead, he could have been charged a hefty fine," he said.

To conclude with another sordid story - Ravindra used to stay in Room 61 of Building number 3 at the Naigaon police quarters. A monthly rent of Rs 230 was deducted from his salary as rent for the 180-sq ft room.  Police constables who were colleagues of Ravindra Patil, on condition of anonymity, said that Patil had taken an emergency loan of Rs 70,000 in  2004, and another personal loan of Rs 34,300 in  2007 from the Police Co-operative Credit Society, Naigaon Police headquarters.  He died in chill penury in 2007 .........   he was   Salman Khan's bodyguard [ it should be officer posted to accompany him !].  Ravindra Patil, played a crucial role in the actor's conviction in the 2002 hit-and-run case. It was Patil who called police after the accident, and became the complainant against the actor. 

Patil told the court that Khan was drunk at the time of the accident. He said he had asked the actor to drive slowly , but the actor didn't pay heed to his request,“  .. he was to go missing and in Sept 2007, months after he had gone missing, Patil was found in the Sewri TB hospital. Such was his physical condition that at first no one recognised him. He was reduced to a pile of bones and weighed a mere 30 kg. He was diagnosed  with a deadly type of TB with little hope of survival.  According to the hospital staff, Patil had reached the hospital in a pitiable condition and was unable to move or even speak. Patil had reportedly told the doctors that he was begging on the streets of Mumbai and had managed to collect Rs 50 to hire a cab to come to the hospital. He eventually lost the battle for life in Oct 2007. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
5th Apr 2018.

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