Twenty nine protestors, who were sent to judicial custody after being arrested by police from Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, have been granted bail. These people – who were opposing the cutting of trees for a proposed metro car shed - were arrested under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for disturbing public order and obstructing government officials from performing their duties. There were six women among those who were arrested by the city police. Some of them accused the police of high-handedness. However, the Mumbai Police has denied these allegations.
Clashes erupted on Saturday when green activists tried to stop tree cutting by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL). Apart from those arrested, the police also detained around 60 people, some of them students.
Meanwhile, prohibitory orders continued to be in force in Aarey Colony and surrounding areas, as the felling of trees continued for the second day on Sunday, a police official said.
Heavy security has been deployed at five entry points of the colony, including the key connecting road near the Western Express Highway, to prevent people from going towards the area and to avoid any untoward incident.
Most of the shops, restaurants and roadside stalls remained closed in the area in view of the imposition of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), banning unlawful assembly, since Saturday.
The police official said the situation was expected to become normal soon.
Patrolling was stepped up in the tribal hamlets located in Aarey area and those found assembling there were being taken into custody, but later let off after proper verification, he said.
The MMRCL started hacking trees from Friday night to make way for the car shed, hours after the Bombay High Court dismissed four petitions filed by NGOs and activists challenging the decision to allow felling of nearly 2,700 trees in the prime green lung of the city.
Earlier, opposition parties slammed the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena, stating they failed to save the trees.
Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray also criticised the MMRCL and backed the protesters.
The MMRCL has defended tree felling by contending that it is restricted only to a small area in Aarey Colony, and is necessary to ensure a modern transport system for Mumbaikars.
The proposed car shed for the Metro-3 line (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) will occupy 33 hectares.
With PTI Inputs