Mumbai Aarey Forest protests Updates: Criticising the Shiv Sena for 'just tweeting' about the cutting of trees in Aarey, AAP's Preeti Sharma Menon also hit out at Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and said that no other leader from any political party joined the protests till 10 am on Saturday
Mumbai Aarey Forest protests Updates: "Around 1,800 of the over 2,600 trees to be felled have been cut since last night. The remaining are expected to be cut today," AAP's Preeti Sharma Menon told Firstpost.
Claiming that the police cordoned off the area, she claimed that people are being detained since last night itself. "Those detained till 3 am have been released. 20-30 people arrested after 3 am have been taken to Aarey, Dahisar police stations. Cognisable offences have been filed against them," she said.
"What’s worse is that seven to eight girls were detained and kept at police stations overnight without any charges. The charges against them were framed only in the morning," she alleged.
Criticising the Shiv Sena for "just tweeting" about the issue, the AAP leader also hit out at Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and said that no other leader from any political party joined the protests till 10 am on Saturday.
Shiv Sena candidate from Worli, Aaditya Thackeray tweeted in support of the activists who were arrested for protesting the cutting of trees at Aarey. Commenting on the hypocrisy of speaking about climate change at the UN while arresting activist in Mumbai, he urged Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to look into the matter.
Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mewani too referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech on climate change at the UN, while condemning the arrest of activists at Aarey.
Saying that Aarey is the most important issues for him, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray assured that he will seek "in-depth information" on the situation, reported ANI.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam, who reached the protest site to express solidarity, said that the Shiv Sena is showing double standards by protesting the cutting of trees even as it continued to extend support to the BJP.
The 29 activists arrested in connection with the protest against the felling of trees in Aarey Colony have been sent to judicial custody, reported Times of India. The activists will be taken to Thane jail.
The Bombay High Court has rejected a fresh plea of activists seeking a stay on cutting of trees in Aarey Colony. The activists will now move the Supreme Court in the matter. Meanwhile, the matter will be heard at the National Green Tribunal on 10 October.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said on Saturday that his party won't let go of Aarey forest. He said that he will "deal with the murderers of trees, without explicitly naming his alliance partner. Shiv Sena is part of the government, both at the Centre and in state but critics say it has not raised the matter with ally BJP with enough seriousness
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday backed the proposed metro shed in Aarey forest area and said that development and environment protection should be done together. His statements come amid the ongoing protests against the felling of trees in Mumbai's "green lung".
Drawing parallels between the development of Delhi metro and Mumbai metro he said, "The High Court has ruled that Aarey is not a forest. Metros in Delhi today are one of the best metros across the world. How does it develop? When the first metro station was constructed, 20-25 trees were cut down. People then protested against it".
Twenty-nine people, including six women, were arrested on Saturday in connection with the protest against the felling of trees in Aarey Colony, a police official said.
Those arrested are among the 60 people earlier detained by police.
Opposition NCP and Congress targeted the ruling Shiv Sena and BJP, saying that the saffron parties have failed to save trees in Aarey Colony. In a veiled dig at Thackeray, the NCP asked where the "fake environment lovers" were when the tree felling began.
"The Aarey tree felling is nothing but hitting Mumbaikars by first rendering them helpless. The @ShivSena bedeviled over the last 25 years. Now, it is holding commo Mumbaikars to ransom in alliance with the BJP," NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik tweeted. "Where were fake environment lovers, who championed ban on plastic, when the tree felling started?" Malik asked on the micro-blogging site, tagging Thackeray and the BJP.
Thirty eight protesters were booked under various sections of the IPC – section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 143 (unlawful assembly) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) – since Friday night.
On the other hand, at least 60 others were detained, a spokesperson of the Mumbai police said. Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi, who took part in the protest, was also taken into custody.
Castigating the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) for violating citizens' rights and demands, the Mumbai Congress alleged that the BJP-led Devendra Fadnavis government was taking "refuge of night's dark hours to hide its Anti-Mumbai actions".
Former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam also condemned the Mumbai Metro's move and all those who supported the car shed project in Aarey.
Among those being detained by Mumbai police, Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi's name has also cropped up. Sena corporator Sheetal Mhatre and former Mayor Shubha Raul have also been detained by the cops.
Section 144 under Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which prohibits an assembly of more than four persons in an area, has been imposed in Mumbai's green lung Aarey colony and surrounding areas after showdown between green activists and the police escalated since Friday night over felling of trees.
All roads leading to the to the Aarey metro shed project location have been barricaded by cops after activists clashed with the police over felling of trees at the Aarey Milk Colony on Friday night. These developments came as Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation to chop off the trees in the dead of the night, hours after the Bombay High Court verdict refusing to stay the development plan.
The three entrances to the forest area – from the Western Expressway Highway and Marol – have been blocked, with no one being permitted inside the radius of around 3 kilometre, reported The Indian Express.
Some media reports also claimed over 100 protesters were detained and taken to different police stations. The media persons were barred from getting inside the premises.
In light of the recent development, AAP spokesperson Preeti Sharma urged citizens to gather at the three entrances, where traffic movement has stopped, and step up their protests.
Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray also lend his support to activists opposing the felling of trees at Aarey Colony area, terming the move of the Metro Rail authorities as a "shameful and disgusting" act which was carried out "in cover of night". Calling out the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRC) – the government authority executing the metro project – for treating Mumbaikars like "criminals", Aaditya tweeted.
"The vigour with which the Mumbai Metro is slyly and swiftly cutting down an ecosystem in Aarey is shameful and disgusting. How about posting these officials in PoK, giving them charge to destroy terror camps rather than trees?"Late on Friday evening, authorities began felling trees just hours after the Bombay High Court rejected the pleas against the cutting of over 2,000 trees in Aarey Colony, a prime green lung of the city, for Metro car shed project
NDTV reported that activists gathered at Aarey Colony after a video showing a tree being cut there was widely circulated on social media. Rules say once a tree committee approves cutting, the order should be uploaded on a government website and trees can be cut 15 days after posting the permission on the website, sources told NDTV. Mumbai Mirror reported that authorities began cutting trees around 9 pm despite protests from activists. Nearly 300 people gathered at the site as activists removed barricades to stop authorities and were later lathicharged, as per the report. Reema Shah, a member of the Aarey Conservation Group, said, "We were at the entrance and people weren't allowed to enter. Soon, a lot of people gathered at the gate. Once, people even managed to push through. Sometime after that (about an hour or so later), they pushed the public away from the gates." Mayanka Goel, a 25-year-old who was on the scene, claimed the police lathicharged the crowd. "A crowd gathered outside the gates, chanting and demanding to go inside. The police shut the gates and were guarding the entrance. There are already a lot of police vans on the spot," she told Firstpost. "At some point, the police lathicharged the crowd. After a point, there were two distinct sides. A wall of police and the citizens. Once again, things got out of hand and a number of cops started to drag the crowd away. They arrested the most vocal activist. She was in fact the one keeping the crowd in control, making sure we protest silently instead of charging inside." The cops soon started forcing the crowd to disperse, Mayanka added. Congress leader Jignesh Mevani took to Twitter to ask Mumbaikars to resist:
Environmental activist Harish Iyer tweeted:
AAP national joint secretary Ruben Mascarehnas claimed the crowd was lathicharged twice:
With inputs from PTI