‘What was our fault?’: Citizens, arrested for protesting tree felling in Aarey Colony, get bail

Updated on Oct 07, 2019 08:23 AM IST

The 29 citizens, who were first detained and then arrested for protesting against hacking of trees at Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, were given bail by a sessions court on Sunday.

An activist holds a placard during a protest against cutting down of trees for a proposed metro car shed project at Aarey Colony in Mumbai, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019.(PTI)
An activist holds a placard during a protest against cutting down of trees for a proposed metro car shed project at Aarey Colony in Mumbai, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019.(PTI)
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByJayprakash S Naidu, Mumbai

While a sessions court on Sunday granted bail to the 29 citizens who were detained and later arrested for protesting against the hacking of trees in Aarey Colony in Goregaon (East), their families called the action “undemocratic and illegal”.

The citizens had stormed the site, where the car shed for Metro-3 will come up, on Friday evening after learning on social media that the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) has started to cut trees. They were arrested for obstructing public servants from discharging duty and unlawful assembly.

Dilip Sawant, additional commissioner, north region, confirmed the development.

Advocate Sonali Samuel, who represented eight of them, said: “All of them have been granted bail by the holiday sessions court after paying 7,000. But they will have to visit the police station every 15 days and cooperate with the investigating officer.”

Family members and friends of the 29 citizens came together on Sunday to express their anguish and emotions against the government’s “illegal” “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional” action.

The Aarey conservation group held a press conference in the auditorium of a school in Goregaon (East) on Sunday, which was attended by more than 100 people. Tanveer Nizam, an advocate practising in Bombay high court, said, “We will first get the FIR filed against the protesters quashed. They detained women and young girls inside police station all night which is against the rules.”

Prakash Bhoir, 40, an adivasi (tribal) in Aarey Colony, said, “They arrested my wife. What was her fault? We have planted many trees and treat them like God. We do not even touch leaves after evening and they butchered it in front of our eyes at night. We have been told that they will chop many more trees in future and we will fight against it lawfully.”

Manisha Dhinde, 20, a final-year student, who almost missed her examinations, said, “I live in Aarey Colony. On hearing the news, we rushed to the spot. They dragged us out of the place. My friend Mayuri fainted, but I kept dragging her. I spent the entire night inside Dahisar police station. They left me in the morning only after I told them I had to appear for my college exams. While I was leaving for college, they detained me again, saying I had lied about my exams, despite showing my hall ticket. They left me only after my principal intervened, just an hour before my exams.”

Amrita Bhattacharjee, 45, one of the petitioners who was part of the Save Aarey movement for five years, said, “We will take the battle forward lawfully and through ground movement.”

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