Mumbai mangrove assault: Eyewitnesses saw only three men, police say | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Mumbai mangrove assault: Eyewitnesses saw only three men, police say

Mumbai city news: The police registered a case against five people, including two minors

mumbai Updated: Jul 14, 2017 00:19 IST
Badri Chatterjee
A mangrove cell official said the accused were trying to rebuild shanties at Sai Dham Nagar and sell them.
A mangrove cell official said the accused were trying to rebuild shanties at Sai Dham Nagar and sell them. (Satish Bate/HT )

A 44-year-old woman from Charkop said she was sexually assaulted by five men on June 25 after she shot of video of them destroying mangroves near her house and sent it to the police and the mangrove cell. The police registered a case against five people, including two minors. However, they said on Thursday that eyewitness accounts of the incident indicated there were only three men there at the time, not five.

“From our initial investigation we have found that two of the five people named in the case were not at the spot. Of the three who were there, we have arrested one and the other two are absconding. One of them is a minor,” said Vikram Deshmane, deputy commissioner of police, zone XI. “We are investigating the matter and verifying all the claims but we have found that there are previous cases against the complainant (counter complaints by people whom she had filed complaints against), all the accused, and even the witnesses.”

HT reported on May 26 that the mangrove cell removed 216 shanties from Sai Dham Nagar that were built less than 50 metres from mangroves. The Bombay high court in 2005 banned the destruction of mangroves across the state and construction within 50m of them after Bombay Environment Action Group, an NGO, filed a public interest litigation (PIL).

A mangrove cell official who did not wish to be named said, “Most of the shanties at Sai Dham were removed in the drive. This was an attempt by local residents to rebuild shanties and sell them. We are investigating the extent of mangrove destruction but criminal activities are the police’s jurisdiction. [The woman who was attacked] had brought to our notice a number of violations and in many cases the violators were caught. We condemn the attack on her.”

Nandkumar Pawar, head of the NGO Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan (SEAP), which is helping the woman fight her case, said, “We have never seen something so horrifying happen to a person for trying to protect the environment. The state government needs to instill fear in the hearts of violators by taking strict action against those who profit from cutting mangroves to build shanties.”