Salman Guilty of Poaching, Says “Absconding” Jeep Driver

Salman Khan. Credit: PTI

Salman Khan. Credit: PTI

Two days after Salman Khan was acquitted by the Rajasthan high court for two cases of poaching antelopes, a chinkara and a blackbuck, Dainik Bhaskar has come out with a report that further questions his innocence. The newspaper has found the man who was Khan’s jeep driver during the hunt, Harish Dulani. Dulani not having testified (apparently because he was “missing” for ten years, living the good life in Dubai) was seen as one of the big reasons there was not enough evidence to convict Khan.

In a telling interview, Dulani has said his testimony was not taken on purpose in order to “save Salman”. “I didn’t disappear anywhere,” he said. “I am still willing to testify that it was Salman who killed the chinkara.” Dainik Bhaskar also said that Dulani was not in Dubai at all, but very much still working as a driver in Rajasthan.

“I don’t understand how Salman was acquitted,” Dulani said, when asked by Dainik Bhaskar how he felt about the judgment and the fact that he was seen as the main reason for the acquittal. “They haven’t even taken my testimony yet, even though I attended most of the court hearings. You can see my signature in the court register. Yes, there were a few I didn’t attend for family reasons, but they didn’t call me on the stand so that they could save Salman.”

When asked whether it was definitely Salman who killed the animal, Dulani said, “I don’t remember the entire incident. But I had recorded my statement with the forest department and the magistrate, and I stand by my statement.” Dulani had said in his statement that Khan and his friends had hunted on 26 and 28 September 1998 on Jodhpur’s Ghoda Farm.

“When the hunting occurred, Salman was driving the jeep himself. I was sitting behind him,” Dulani told Dainik Bhaskar. “I was just doing my job, but I was caught in the middle of all this. If the Supreme Court calls me to testify, I will definitely go.”

When asked whether he was offered bribes or threatened to not testify against Khan, Dulani said he hadn’t been offered anything, but his father had been threatened.