Salman Khan must be breathing a huge sigh of relief. The actor was granted bail by the Jodhpur sessions court in connection with the 1998 blackbuck poaching case.

Special Correspondent

He had spent the last two nights in Jodhpur Central Jail, after being convicted of shooting two blackbucks by a Jodhpur court and being sentenced to five years in prison.

Salman was assigned inmate number 106 and lodged in ward number two of the Jodhpur Central Jail. According to sources, he was being given special treatment inside the jail. He slept in his barrack with a special air cooler, which was brought from a chief officer's room especially for him.

On his first night in jail, Salman was said to be sitting in the air-conditioned video conferencing room that also has multiple TV sets. He was in the company of top jail officials, who stayed with him till midnight. Apparently, he also had access to his regular cigarettes on Friday and smoked inside jail.

This is not the first time that Salman is spending time behind bars. Apart from the current blackbuck poaching case, Salman was an accused in two other cases of killing chinkaras and blackbucks in two separate places and a fourth case under the Arms Act. However, he was acquitted in all three cases, except this one, and appeals are pending.

The last time Salman was taken to Jodhpur Central Jail was August 24, 2007. He lost an appeal against a five-year jail term given by a lower court and was put behind bars. He travelled to Jodhpur in a Jet Airways flight, and was picked up from airport by a police team and produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM).

CJM Ravi Shankar Sharma had issued a non-bailable warrant against the actor, as he was not present in the sessions court which had turned down his appeal to suspend the jail term.

Before flying off to Jodhpur, Salman had told reporters in Mumbai that he was going to Jodhpur to surrender. "Nobody has told me to get there, but I am going there as a responsible citizen who abides by the law," he had said.

Salman aka "inmate number 343" spent six nights in jail, before being released on bail on the evening of August 31, 2007. He was granted bail by the Rajasthan High Court after furnishing a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and two surety bonds of Rs 50,000.

Hundreds of fans had been waiting patiently outside the jail premises for a glimpse of their favourite actor, and he waved to the crowd after being released and greeted them with folded hands. Salman's faithful bodyguard Shera was there to receive him, and the actor was whisked away in a police vehicle. He then flew to Mumbai in a chartered flight.

Prior to his 2007 jail stint, Salman was housed in Jodhpur Central Jail in 2006. On April 10, 2006, he was sentenced to five years of imprisonment and fined Rs 25,000 for killing a chinkara. The actor's mother, Salma Khan, was shocked by the verdict and had to be admitted to Lilavati Hospital. She was discharged three days later.

After spending three nights in jail, he was granted conditional bail and walked out of the jail in jeans and a white vest. Salman's brother Sohali Khan and then-girlfriend Katrina Kaif had gone to receive him. Later that night, he was back in Mumbai.

Salman had opened up about his experience in jail in an interview with Koel Purie in 2008. Sarcastically calling his time behind bars "a lot of fun", the actor said, "I was blank. I was chilling. The only tension was the bathroom. That was it. [pause] And, the bin, and three, four times I have gone in and out of it. If someone wants to put you in, you go in quietly. When you know you haven't done it, you go in head high."

When Salman arrived in Jodhpur for the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hain in 1998, little did he know what would happen in the days to follow. The actor became involved in three cases of killing chinkaras and blackbucks in three separate places and a fourth case under the Arms Act. The hunting expeditions are said to have taken place between September 26 and October 1.

On October 12, 1998, Salman was arrested. As his case was being fought in court, star-struck locals gathered for a glimpse of the star. He was denied bail and taken into custody. Days later when Salman was eventually released on bail for killing two blackbucks, he was immediately rearrested by the police for the slaughter of three chinkaras.

On the night of September 28, 2002, Salman had allegedly rammed his Toyota Land Cruiser into American Express Bakery in Bandra, killing one and injuring four persons who were sleeping on the pavement outside. It is said that the actor was inebriated at the time of the accident.

He was arrested by the Mumbai Police on October 7, 2002 and spent 17 days in custody before being released on bail on October 24. Talking to BBC, Salman described his jail term as an "educational" experience which he was "destined" to suffer.

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