Adi­va­sis saw trees be­ing felled, raised alarm Won’t spare mur­der­ers of Aarey, says Ud­dhav

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Busi­ness By Bids -

On Satur­day, the high court re­fused to al­low ac­tivist Zoru Bha­thena and NGO Van­shakti’s ur­gent plea to stay the ax­ing of trees, say­ing it would di­rectly con­tra­vene its own day-old ver­dict.

While Am­rita Bhat­tachar­jee of Aarey Con­ser­va­tion Group said over 1,500 trees had al­ready been cut on Satur­day, Ash­wini Bhide, manag­ing direc­tor, MMRC, said: “The planned work should be close to com­ple­tion but I don’t have the ex­act num­ber of de­tails (of the trees cut).”

In ad­di­tion to those ar­rested, over a 100, in­clud­ing Shiv Sena deputy leader Priyanka Chaturvedi and for­mer mayor Shubha Raul, were de­tained after Sec­tion 144 of the CrPC was in­voked to re­strain “un­law­ful assem­bly” of more than four per­sons. Po­lice also re­sorted to lathi-charge to dis­perse the pro­test­ers. By Satur­day morn­ing, 500 cops had been de­ployed and pro­test­ers al­leged po­lice heavy­hand­ed­ness.

It was lo­cal adi­va­sis who first no­ticed that trees were be­ing axed and alerted oth­ers on Fri­day evening. Some Greens in the neigh­bour­hood rushed to the site and recorded the work and shared the clips. Soon, hun­dreds of Save Aarey sup­port­ers and other cit­i­zens be­gan to pour in from var­i­ous parts of the city.

The first few who ar­rived at the spot around 8pm did not face hur­dles. Po­lice were called in around 10pm after crowds mul­ti­plied. The ban­dobast was beefed up around 12am after po­lice used lath­icharge to quell the sit­u­a­tion.

Two lay­ers of naka­bandi were put up on three roads lead­ing to the site. After learn­ing that Sec­tion 144 had been im­posed, pro­test­ers be­gan to turn up in groups of two or three. Sev­eral, though, al­leged that po­lice as­saulted pro­test­ers and women were man­han­dled by male cops. Fol­low­ing the al­le­ga­tions, more po­lice­women were called in.

Six of the 29 ar­rested per­sons were women. They were charged with “as­sault­ing po­lice per­son­nel” and “un­law­ful assem­bly”, among oth­ers. Most of those ar­rested were young stu­dents. The old­est ac­cused was 53 and the youngest 21. The ac­cused in­cluded a mem­ber of the Bhim Army and lo­cal res­i­dents of Aarey’s tribal ham­lets.

“A mob of 100 to 200 pro­test­ers had as­sem­bled il­le­gally at the carshed con­struc­tion site to protest the tree felling on Thurs­day night. They ob­structed the po­lice from do­ing their duty and some of them as­saulted con­sta­ble In­gle and a fe­male con­sta­ble, Anita Su­tar,” said a state­ment from the po­lice. Late on Satur­day, po­lice said around 175 peo­ple were still wanted in con­nec­tion with the protest.

Full re­port on www.toi.in Mum­bai: Shiv Sena chief Ud­dhav Thack­eray on Satur­day said that he will deal with the “mur­der­ers of Aarey for­est in the best pos­si­ble way” after form­ing the govern­ment again in Ma­ha­rash­tra.

“Once our govern­ment comes into power once again, we will deal with the mur­der­ers of Aarey for­est in the best pos­si­ble way we can,” Ud­dhav said. This comes after a lo­cal court on Satur­day sent 29 peo­ple to ju­di­cial cus­tody for five days while po­lice de­tained 55 oth­ers in con­nec­tion with protests against the cut­ting of trees in Aarey colony area.

Ud­dhav re­quested Ma­ha­rash­tra CM Deven­dra Fad­navis to ask the po­lice not to file cases against the pro­test­ers who tried to stop the tree cut­ting. Ex­press­ing con­cern about stu­dents and oth­ers get­ting booked un­der non-bailable sec­tions of IPC, Aa­ditya Thack­eray took to twit­ter, say­ing it would be a shame if these peo­ple were ar­rested and cases were filed against them.

“The use of a large num­ber of po­lice per­son­nel, hack­ing of trees in the dead of the night, even after win­ning in the court (then why not in broad day­light) and de­ten­tion

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