Aarey: Tree-cutting continues, sec 144 imposed, protesters arrested and denied bail

The indiscriminate felling of trees that began in Aarey on Friday night continued well into Saturday despite public uproar. What’s worse the administration ensured heavy police bandobast, blocked all points of entry and egress from the area and imposed prohibitary orders to keep protestors in check.

As word of trees being felled surreptitiously in the dead of the night got out, social media became abuzz with videos of large trees falling to the ground with reverberating thuds, shaking Mumbaikars out of their slumber and forcing them out of the comfort of their homes onto the street.

Activists, students and even ordinary citizens started gathering at the spot shocked at the impunity with which the state went about cutting trees. But the Devendra Fadnavis government was ready with police vans and even women officers. Overnight 31 people including 9 women were detained and taken to Dahisar police station. 8 others were taken to Aarey police station. The arrested people included tribals and activists.

When our crew reached Aarey early on Saturday morning, we could not go inside at all due to the deployment of police personnel.

Senior journalist Sahil Joshi tweeted this list of people who were arrested. Many of them are in their early 20s and have been slapped with non-bailable sections of the law in an apparent bid to intimidate them.

Section 144 was imposed in the area on Saturday, making possible the arrest of many peaceful protesters, and even some residents of the area who were unable to go home and were caught by the police. When parents of arrested students went to make inquiries with the police, the cops allegedly manhandled and pushed them. Listen to this woman who is a resident of Aarey. Her son who is in his early 20s was on his way back home from work was arrested by the police and booked under serious sections of the law.

Lawyers from environmental groups, political parties and civil society organisations then flocked to the Borivali magistrate’s court where the arrested activists and students were produced. However, the court denied bail to 29 activists and sent them to judicial custody. The next hearing is on Monday, which means they will have to spend two nights in prison. Hear what advocate Sanjay Pande had to say:

According to Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon, “BMC putting out an order during elections is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). Also, acting on an order before 15 days cooling period of its online publishing is a violation of the Tree Act as well as of Bombay HC order. They acted within 6 hours!”

Image: Suhel Banerjee / CJP

Image: Suhel Banerjee / CJP

Image: Suhel Banerjee / CJP



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