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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Fight to save Aarey will go on till Maharashtra government changes stand, say protesters

One of the arrested citizens, Kamlesh Shyamthul, 33, questioned the government and asked why citizens were arrested for protecting trees.

mumbai Updated: Oct 11, 2019 11:45 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
A press conference was held by citizens arrested for protesting against tree-felling in Aarey Colony,  Mumbai, October 11, 2019.
A press conference was held by citizens arrested for protesting against tree-felling in Aarey Colony, Mumbai, October 11, 2019.(Kunal Pandit / HT Photo )
         

Citizens arrested for protesting against the tree-felling at the proposed Metro-3 depot at Mumbai’s Aarey Milk Colony on October 4 and 5 have said they will continue their fight till the authorities move the car shed to an alternative location.

The 29 people who were later released on bail on October 7, said this while addressing the media at the Press Club on Thursday. Law student Rishav Ranjan, who had written to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) seeking an urgent intervention into the matter, said he would visit the proposed car shed site on Friday to ensure that the Apex Court’s order on maintaining status quo at Aarey is being followed.

“I wrote to the managing director of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), Ashwini Bhide, and asked her to ensure that status quo is maintained. I’ll visit the site and if status quo hasn’t been followed, I would demand an urgent hearing by CJI again. The authorities failed to identify the difference between criminals, activists and common citizens,” said Ranjan.

He further said that a petition to quash the first information report (FIR) against the 29 people will also be filed.

On October 4, after the Bombay high court refused to stay the cutting of trees at Aarey, the MMRC began to axe the trees the same night. As news about the tree-felling came to light, activists and citizens began protesting near Aarey, following which 29 people were arrested under sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from duty) and 143 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

One of the arrested citizens, Kamlesh Shyamthul, 33, questioned the government and asked why citizens were arrested for protecting trees. “My niece asked me why was I behind bars when her teacher teaches her to protect trees, and I had no answer,” said Shyamthul.

Another citizen, who was arrested, Siddharth Sapkale, 29, said they had been forming human chains at Aarey over the past one month. “I have had several pleasant memories of Aarey, as I would go cycling with my friends there. But the scenes that I witnessed on Friday and the manhandling is something I’ll never forget that,” said Sapkale.

A Supreme Court Bench will hear the matter on October 21, and the Union environment ministry will also be made a party in the case.

First Published: Oct 11, 2019 00:26 IST

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