Long believed to be missing, the main witness in the chinkara poaching cases against Salman Khan has questioned the actor’s acquittal+ by the Rajasthan high court. Harish Dulani, on whose testimony alone the case was built, served as Salman’s driver during the alleged hunt in 1998.
Dulani, who ignored several summons and skipped hearings in the cases, said he was forced to stay away by threats issued to him after he became a prosecution witness. On Wednesday, the driver said he stuck to the statement he made before a magistrate in October 1998 – that Salman had killed the chinkaras – and added that, if summoned, he would repeat the same in court.
The high court had acquitted the film star+ on Monday. Setting aside Salman’s conviction by a lower court, the HC had observed that Dulani’s statement could not be considered because he had “disappeared” and the defence could not cross-examine him during the trial.
Dulani, however, told a local Hindi newspaper on Wednesday: “I did not disappear. I was not called (for examination by the defence) in order to save Salman. I still maintain that it was Salman who hunted (the chinkaras).” Dulani said he did attend hearings in the cases on November 24, 2015, and May 17, 2016.
“How could he (Salman) be acquitted? I was yet to testify,” he added.Salman could be in for trouble as Dulani is also a witness in another poaching case involving the blackbuck and also dating back to 1998. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for August 10, and Dulani said he had been asked to appear before the court. “I will go to the court and repeat my statement,” he added.”Even if I am called to the Supreme Court to testify, I would say the same thing,” Dulani said.The witness said he and his families had suffered much hardship after he was made a witness in the poaching case. “My father and I got many threat calls,” Dulani said. “I lost my job, my parents, and my peace of mind in these years,” he added.
Dulani denied that he was “bought over” to save the actor. “People have said all kinds of things about me. Some said I had moved to Dubai. The reality is I don’t even have a passport,” he said.