Aarey Colony protests in Mumbai: Prohibitory orders remain in force as 29 protesters granted bail; SC to hear plea today
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.
Prohibitory orders continued to be in force in Aarey Colony and surrounding areas for the second day on Sunday.
Heavy security was deployed at Aarey Colony's five entry points.
Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar was detained when he tried to enter the Aarey Colony in support of the activists
Prohibitory orders continued to be in force in Aarey Colony and its surrounding areas for the second day on Sunday as trees continue to be felled to make way for a Metro car shed, a police official said.
Heavy security was deployed at Aarey Colony's five entry points, including the key connecting road near the Western Express Highway, to prevent people from going towards the area and to avoid any untoward incident, he said.
This even as 29 protesters arrested Saturday, after clashes broke out between the police and green activists who tried to stop tree cutting by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) in Aarey Colony, were granted bail by a Mumbai court.
News18 reported that the families of the protesters said they would seek quashing of the FIR against them, and action against police personnel for "assault".
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has constituted a special bench to hear a petition against the felling of trees. The bench will hear the case on Monday at 10 a.m. The Supreme Court is presently on a Dussehra break.
Most 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 normalise 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.
Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar was detained when he tried to enter Aarey Colony. He alleged that the Maharashtra government was using "muscle power" to silence those raising voice against tree felling.
The @VBAforIndia has been against the Aarey tree-cutting from the start. I went there to protest & ask the govt some valid questions. I have been detained & not arrested. I am currently at Powai police station. Don’t believe rumours & I appeal to everyone to maintain law & order. pic.twitter.com/dX9NEymkgi
— Prakash Ambedkar (@Prksh_Ambedkar) October 6, 2019
He later told reporters, "The green cover at Aarey Colony helps in the purification of air, in the same way that the fresh breeze coming from the Arabian Sea helps in keeping Mumbai air clean."
The MMRCL started hacking tree late Friday night just 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.
"Several trees in the area have been cut and security has been tightened," the police official said. He said Section 144 of the CrPC will remain imposed in the area till the completion of cutting of the prescribed number of trees.
"We have identified five major spots which are broadly used to get access into the Aarey Colony, including from the Western Express Highway, Marol police training camp centre and one route coming from Mulund side," he said.
"Police personnel have been deployed on all these spots. Pedestrians have been advised not to venture into five km area in the vicinity of Aarey Colony. Besides, those residing in the area need to show their Aadhaar cards to move around. We are ensuring that no one is allowed free access to the disputed area," he said.
Several senior police officials are on bandobast duty, he added.
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. Some local tribals also opposed the tree cutting, claiming they were largely dependent on the Aarey forest for their livelihood.
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 inputs from PTI
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