16 January, 2021

Shikar, Anyone?

Celebrity hunting? No, rich offenders do come in packs...

Shikar, Anyone?
In the early '90s, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt allegedly hunted and killed deer in the forests of Karnataka. This was a few years before Salman Khan (and a few co-stars) hunted and killed chinkara and black buck in the forests near Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Both were celebrities, both had cases registered against them, both got adverse publicity and had to make court appearances. But while the case against Sanjay collapsed, Salman got nailed. What did him in was not the mere fact of his celebrityhood, as his defenders claim, but an unbeatable confluence of factors: a good investigation by forest and police officials, rigorous tracking of the case by NGOs and the media, a high level of judicial involvement and, above all, relentless commitment to the case by the Bishnoi community. "Salman tried to manipulate the case, but he couldn't—it was too strong," says Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).

Salman belongs to a long list of 'white-collar' poachers who have been caught preying on wild animals, including...


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