By Sonya Rehman
It’s official. Chest-baring Salman ol’ boy, in his jail cell, is all set to see the world in stripes – for a good solid five years.
What goes around, truly does come around, as nine years ago (in 1998), Salman – while filming ‘Hum Sath Sath Hein’ in Rajasthan – was found guilty of hunting down, and killing two rare species of the Blackbuck Deer (‘Chinkara’). But it was only now, in August, 2007, that Salman’s ‘non-bailable warrant’ was issued – after the denial of an appeal.
I agree, perhaps the five-year sentence is slightly harsh, but having the blood of an almost extinct – and protected – species on your hands, is reason enough to be severely punished. For years, hundreds and millions of hunters in Africa, Asia and around the world, have been severely convicted of poaching – so why should Salman be let off the hook, scot-free? What propelled the actor to disregard/fling Rajasthan’s wildlife conservation laws back in its face? Well its come right back and boxed him in the face – now the actor can leisurely enjoy being haunted by nightmares of Rambo-style-commando deer’s hunting him down (for a change).
But jokes aside, apart from the unacceptable, horrendous and organized, large-scale ‘poaching business’, for example; in places like Kenya where elephants are shot down and brutally mutilated for their tusks – individual hunting, one must remember, is just as cruel. I simply fail to understand how men can resort to hunting for ‘pleasure’. Are they plagued with some sort of sado-masochistic fantasy? Or perhaps via hunting, they subconsciously assume that they’re proving their virility? God knows. But coming back to the subject at hand, Salman’s jailing does aid in sending out a warning message to active poachers in and around India. The fact that a Bollywood ‘star’ has been convicted of disobeying wildlife conservation laws, simply proves its supremacy. PETA, WWF and the plethora of other animal rights organizations/NGO’s ought to celebrate.
We humans you see, we’re odd creatures. We construct our mammoth sized buildings and our shopping malls; we do everything in our capacity to find ‘happiness’ – which mind you, always (in some way or the other) leads to monetary gratification. But the sad part is…we’ve begun to lack ‘soul’. ‘Hunt down that damn almost extinct deer’, we’d say, ‘Butcher those little baby seals in Canada – who cares, I want my mink coat’, we’d laugh.
And the cherry on top? Here we are worried about the ever-widening hole in the ozone layer – but that’s not all we should be worried about…it’s the ever-widening fissure, in the soul of the human race, that keeps getting bigger and bigger with each passing year.
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