Jaipur, July 29 : Rajasthan government has offered protection to key witness, Harish Dulani in Bollywood actor Salman Khan’s chinkara poaching case, who in numerous interviews to various television channels, said he feared for his family’s and his life and has been receiving threats ever since he deposed against the actor.
However, there is no word whether Dulani is ready to accept the government protection. State Home MInister Gulab Chand Kataria has said if he doesn’t approach himself, the local police would contact him.
Salman has been acquitted in two of the four poaching and Arms Act case after the Rajasthan HIgh Court found the evidence insufficient.
The state government has also decided to appeal against the High Court’s acquittal of Salman.
Earlier the Rajasthan High Court in Jodhpur acquitted Salman in two cases of poaching, dismissing the state government’s petition and overturning a lower court verdict in the 18–year-old cases.
Salman, 50, has been charged under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 for poaching two chinkaras at Bhawad near Jodhpur (340 km from here) and one chinkara at Ghoda Farm Mathania on September 26-27, 1998. He was convicted and sentenced to one year and five year prison terms in connection with these cases. Salman was shooting for the film Hum Saath Saath Hain, during the time.
But the High Court under Justice Nirmal Jeet Kaur rejected the appeal of the state government saying that there was no evidence to prove that the dead animals were shot with Salman’s guns. Also that the defence could not get a chance to cross key examine Dulani as he failed to appear in the court repeatedly.
Dulani, who resurfaced day after the judgment, has given interviews to many media channels that he was forced into hiding after receiving threats. Dulani added that he stands by his statement made in the court against Salman.
He told one of the TV channels: “I have said what I wanted to say in courts. I was a driver with them for a week. I was threatened and hence I went out (of Jodhpur). I just need protection…I said what I wanted to say in courts, now I don’t want to comment on it. Yes, I stand by my statement and if court summons me, I will go. When was I missing?” Dulani said.
Dulani informed the Forest Department about the alleged chinkara poaching and recorded his statement before a magistrate. A lower court convicted Salman in 2006 in the poaching case, but its verdict was overturned by the Rajasthan High Court earlier this week.
Dulani claimed he was appointed as Salman’s driver during a film shooting in 1998, but the gypsy was being driven by Salman at the time of the alleged poaching. But the defence side says Dulani had been issued 27 summons and bailable warrants after his last appearance at the Chief Judicial Magistrate CJM ( trial) court in these two cases. He last appeared on March 20, 2002 and did not turn up in the court.
After Dulani did not come to the court despite summons and bailable warrant, the court finally closed his summoning a few months before the judgment.
A week before the second judgment of the two cases, Dulani suddenly emerged in the scene and gave interviews in the media stating that Khan had not poached the chinkaras and he had given statements against the actor under pressure. But four months before that the trial court had closed his summoning when all his summons and bailable warrants along with police search failed to trace him to ensure appearance in the court. The trial court had initiated action under Section 193 for giving false statements and evidence in the court by issuing a notice to him on April 18, 2006.