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Planned in the US, Executed in Mumbai: Decoding the Salman Khan Firing Incident

Both shooters are affiliated with the notorious Lawrence Bishnoi gang, say police sources

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on April 15, 2024, 12:48:54

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reads like plot straight crime thriller plan conceived

It reads like a plot straight out of a crime thriller: a plan conceived in the United States, a network of professional shooters and weapon caches strategically placed across various Indian states -- all culminating in a shooting outside Bollywood actor Salman Khan's residence.

Early Sunday morning, around 5am, two men on a motorcycle fired four rounds outside Galaxy Apartments in Mumbai's Bandra, where the actor lives, before swiftly fleeing the scene. CCTV footage captured the assailants wearing caps and carrying backpacks, clearly aiming towards the actor's home. One suspect wore a white t-shirt with a black jacket and denim pants, while the other was in a red t-shirt with denim pants.

According to police sources, both men are affiliated with the notorious Lawrence Bishnoi gang. Bishnoi himself is currently incarcerated at Tihar Jail for several high-profile murder cases, including those involving musician Sidhu Moose Wala and Rajput leader Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi of the Karni Sena.

Origins of the Plot

The scheme originated in the United States, where Anmol Bishnoi, Lawrence Bishnoi's brother, tasked Rohit Godara -- a fellow gangster based in the US -- with selecting shooters. Godara, known for his extensive network of professional shooters across India, likely facilitated this operation. Anmol Bishnoi later claimed responsibility for the incident through a Facebook post, although the post's IP address was traced back to Canada, prompting suspicions of VPN usage.

Godara, a key figure in the Bishnoi gang, played a crucial role by providing weapons through associates strategically located in multiple states. Vishal (alias Kalu), chosen for his involvement in previous violent incidents orchestrated by Godara, along with another suspect, acquired a second-hand bike from Raigad district to reach Khan's residence.

Security Concerns and Past Threats

Salman Khan has been a target of threats before, particularly due to his infamous 1998 black buck hunting incident that reportedly offended the Bishnoi community. Last year, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) identified Khan as a top target on Lawrence Bishnoi's hit list.

In response to heightened security threats, Mumbai Police escalated Khan's security status to Y+ and continue to review this arrangement. Eleven security personnel, including commandos and Personal Security Officers (PSOs), accompany Khan at all times in fully bulletproof vehicles.

The investigation into the recent shooting incident involves a coordinated effort across five states --Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab. The involvement of multiple agencies, including the Maharashtra ATS and the NIA, underscores the gravity of the situation.

While the case has been transferred to Mumbai's Crime Branch, there has been no formal request to involve the ATS or NIA in the investigation. The sale of the motorcycle used in the crime is currently under scrutiny, as authorities continue to pursue leads to apprehend those responsible.

1998 Blackbuck Poaching Case

During the shooting of his blockbuster movie Hum Saath Saath Hain, Salman Khan allegedly killed two blackbucks in Bhagoda ki Dhani located in Kankani village near Jodhpur in Rajasthan. He was charged under section 9/51 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

In what came to be known as the 1998 Blackbuck Case, his co-actors Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam and Tabu were also charged under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and under Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code. However, they were all acquitted after being given the benefit of doubt.

Two other people, namely Dinesh Gawr and Dushyant Singh, were also accused of being with the actors when the poaching allegedly took place.

What Really Happened?

Back in October 1998, the film Hum Saath Saath Hain was being shot in Jodhpur. It has been alleged that the actors were driving around the Kankani Village in a gypsy car when they came across a herd of blackbucks and Salman Khan shot two of them. On realising that they might have been seen, the group of actors allegedly fled the scene.

Blackbucks are sacred to the Bishnoi tribe of Rajasthan; they protect the species for religious reasons. Poonamchand Bishnoi, a member of the sect, claims to have witnessed the event taking place. Bishnoi later testified against the group of actors, saying that he saw the actors fleeing away from the scene.

(The writer is a legal associate at NYK Law Firm, one of the top legal consultants in Dubai)

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