"Thank you for all the support and good wishes"
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has been cleared of keeping firearms illegally by an Indian court.
Almost two decades on from the incident that saw the poaching of endangered animals in Jodhpur, a Magistrate court ruled that there was not sufficient enough evidence to charge the actor.
The case was made against Khan in 1998, under the Arms Act in Jodhpur, while he was shooting for the Bollywood film, Hum Saath Saath Hain.
It was claimed that the actor was in possession of illegal firearms, notably a 0.22 rifle and 0.32 revolver, both of which had expired licences.
These were reportedly used to hunt two black bucks (a protected species of antelope) on the 1st and 2nd of October 1998. The incident was said to have taken place on the outskirts of Jodhpur in Kankani village.
Salman who is involved in four such cases of poaching pleaded not guilty to all charges. His defence lawyers argued that Khan was innocent and instead had been framed.
Jodhpur Chief Judicial Magistrate, Dalpat Singh, eventually declared that there was insufficient evidence to charge the actor.
Khan has been previously cleared of two cases of the poaching of chinkaras in July 2016. Now with Salman acquitted of this black buck case, he faces one final trial regarding an issue in Kankani village.
Salman who attended the court hearing on Wednesday 18th January 2017 along with his sister Alvira, later thanked his fans on Twitter for their continued support:
“Thank you for all the support and good wishes,” he said.
Thank you for all the support and good wishes
— Salman Khan (@BeingSalmanKhan) January 18, 2017
Despite being cleared of the charges, Salman Khan has had many close brushes with Indian authorities in the past and is not averse to controversy.
In May 2015, Khan was sentenced to five years in jail following a 2002 hit-and-run case which killed a homeless man. After spending only a few hours in a holding cell, he had his sentence suspended. Finally, in 2016, he was acquitted of all charges.
Now with the actor found not guilty of possessing illegal firearms, many on social media have taken to mocking him.
Soon it will be proved that the blackbuck acquired the illegal arms from the driver and they both went for a late night drive in Bandra.
— Shilpa Rathnam (@shilparathnam) January 18, 2017
— ??? ??? (@WoCharLog) January 18, 2017
— East India Comedy (@EastIndiaComedy) January 18, 2017
Aside from Twitter trolls, many fans expressed their relief at their favourite stars acquittal. The 51-year-old star will now stand trial for a fourth and final poaching case.