AHMEDABAD: This could be the final blow to investigations into the black buck poaching case involving Salman Khan. After the files of the case disappeared suddenly, a local guide, a co-accused who could have turned a witness, has now died.

Khan is accused of hunting black bucks during the making of the film, 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam,' in Samrasar and Bhirandiara villages of Kutch in 1998. Accompanying Khan and another accused, Aishwarya Rai, was Babuji, a local guide, who, police say witnessed the poaching. Mahendrasinh Kachhawa, a lawyer is representing the forest department of Rajasthan in this case, said during his last visit to Kutch he found that Babuji, a key witness, had died.

The CID (crime), which is handling the case, could have turned Babuji into an approver to strengthen the investigations. While Salman awaits the verdict of his appeal against a five-year-prison sentence in Rajasthan, it seems that he and Aishwarya may walk free for their alleged hunting offence in Gujarat.

Now everything hinges on the forest department finding the missing Salman files. These files have the statements of the accused and the witnesses, a forest department official said.

A statement recorded before a forest officer can be produced in a court. Therefore, apart from the statements of Salman and Aishwariya, those of Babuji and other locals are crucial. Therefore, the files would ensure whether the accused are nailed or not