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