Mumbai, Apr 5: A trial court in Jodhpur on Thursday found actor Salman Khan guilty in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case. Salman Khan was sentenced to five years of imprisonment following his conviction in the case. A forensic report by a DNA fingerprinting expert from Hyderabad played a key role in Salman Khan’s conviction. The forensic report had identified the species of blackbuck.
GV Rao, who had conducted wildlife forensic tests on the samples of a blackbuck sent to a Hyderabad lab — the Centre for DNA fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) — in 1999 had managed to identify the species of animals. He had deposed in December 2015 in the court when he was then chief staff scientist of CDFD’s DNA fingerprinting lab. Specially developed markers were used by his team to identify the species.
Speaking to a newspaper, Rao said the wildlife forensics, particularly DNA identification, was in a nascent stage. However, his team could establish the identity of the species with the help of the newly-developed markers and methodology. The forensic report had then found out that the remains were of blackbucks, an endangered species. The finding was crucial evidence in the case and helped the prosecution nail Salman Khan.
“When I deposed in December 2015 in court, I explained how we developed the methodology and how the test was conducted to identify the species. In the cross-examination too, I was able to explain the authenticity of the test and results. I am happy that at last the court has convicted Salman Khan,” Rao was quoted as saying. “I am happy about the judgment as it reinforces faith in the judiciary even though the accused is so powerful,” he added.
Salman, 52, was found guilty under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 for killing two blackbucks, hunting of which is prohibited by law. The incident took place in Kankani village near Jodhpur on October 1-2, 1998, during the shooting of Bollywood film Hum Saath Saath Hain.