Bollywood superstar Salman Khan on Saturday walked out of the Jodhpur jail, where he spent two nights, after a sessions court granted him bail in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case in which he was given a five-year prison sentence.
Salman returned home in Mumbai to a hero's welcome with thousands of fans lined up at the Mumbai Airport and outside his Bandra home here on Saturday evening.
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Several thousands, ranging from toddlers in arms to youth, elderly men and women, many carrying placards and banners with Salman's pictures had been waiting after he was granted bail.
Louds screams of joy went up with frantic waving and clicking pictures on mobiles as soon as an apparently healthy and cheerful Salman stepped out of the Mumbai Airport after alighting from Jodhpur by a chartered flight.
Sporting a dark t-shirt, a cap, he was accompanied by his sisters Alvira and Arpita, besides his omnipresent personal bodyguard Shera.
For that 'Being Human' touch, Salman carried Arpita's one-year old son, who appeared bewildered by all the noisy attention his famous 'Mamu' was getting.
Despite frenzied catcalls, shouts of 'Salman Khan Zindabad', etc, from the fans, the family quickly stepped into their waiting vehicles without any public interactions.
En route, some daring fans even attempted to follow his motorcade, but at one point when the vehicles halted due to traffic congestion, Shera and his team of bouncers were seen firmly requesting them to avoid speeding after them in the heavy evening traffic.
Immediately after his release at 5.35 pm, 52-year-old Khan was driven under police escort to the Jodhpur airport from where he was flown to Mumbai in a chartered plane.
Khan was allowed to leave the jail after the prison authorities received the bail documents. The actor's long-time bodyguard Shera accompanied him to the airport.
Hundreds of the actor's fans, who gathered outside the Jodhpur Central Jail, burst fire crackers and sang songs from his films as he walked out of the prison. The police had made tight security arrangements.
The fans, who were carrying garlanded posters of Khan, raised slogans like "Salman zindabad", "Salman tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hai". A few fans even chased the actor's cavalcade for some distance.
After landing at Santa Cruz airport in Mumbai, Khan was taken to his first-floor flat at Bandra's Galaxy Apartments where he reached at around 8 pm. His fans, who were there in front of his residence, burst crackers.
Later, the actor, dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans and flanked by his father Salim Khan, nephew Ahil and Shera, came to the balcony, greeting the fans with folded hands and waved to them.
In his order, Jodhpur District and Sessions Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi also allowed Khan's application for suspension of sentence for a month against his conviction.
Khan, who was lodged in the Jodhpur jail after his sentencing on Thursday, was granted bail on a bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties of like amount, defence counsel Mahesh Bora said.
The judge asked the actor to appear before the court after a month on May 7 when it will hear his plea for suspension of sentence. He also directed Khan not to leave the country without the court's permission.
Meanwhile, the Bishnoi community, which reveres the blackbuck, has decided to move the Rajasthan High Court challenging the bail granted to Khan, according to Ram Niwas, the secretary of the Bishnoi Tiger Force.
In its 10-page bail order, the court said the trial judge acquitted his Bollywood colleagues Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre and a local, Dushyant Singh, giving them the "benefit of doubt" for the incident.
It also cited the differences in the post-mortem reports of the blackbucks with the first saying there was no gunshot injury while second stating that the animals were killed by gunshots.
Judge Joshi said during the trial, Khan had never misused any condition.
He also said he was earlier granted bail in the Mathania Ghoda Farm case in which he was given a five-years jail term for killing a blackbuck. Later, the high court had acquitted him.
Similarly, he was acquitted by the trial court last year in the Bhawad poaching case in which he was accused of killing two chinkara gazelles, the court said.
It said the high court had also raised suspicion over the recovery of a Gypsy car, pellets and arms from the actor in the two other poaching cases against him.
The judge also said the complaint of lone eyewitness Poonam Chand on October 2, 1998, was submitted to the court by the forest department six days later on October 8.
Earlier in the day, the judge heard the arguments of the prosecution and the defence which lasted about an hour and pronounced the order around 3 pm, a defence counsel said.
Khan's sisters - Alvira and Arpita - were present during the hearing, besides Shera.
The actor was convicted by a trial court and sentenced to five years in prison for killing two blackbucks during the shooting of "Hum Saath Saath Hain" in Kankani village near Jodhpur on the night of October 1, 1998.
In a late night development, an order was issued to transfer Joshi to Sirohi, as part of a reshuffle. He was among 134 judges transferred by the high court registrar general.
The judge had yesterday reserved his decision on Khan's bail plea till today after hearing arguments on the suspension of sentence and the bail application. While defence counsel Bora had argued for Khan's bail in the court yesterday, public prosecutor Pokar Ram Bishnoi had opposed the plea.
This was Khan's fourth stint in the Jodhpur jail, which also houses religious preacher Asaram Bapu, who has been accused of rape. He has spent a total of 20 days in the prison in 1998, 2006, 2007 and now, all for cases of poaching.
WATCH FULL VIDEO OF SALMAN KHAN'S RELEASE FROM JODHPUR JAIL AMID FAN FRENZY:
(With agency inputs)