Mumbai: A Mumbai court on Sunday granted bail to the 29 protesters who were arrested from Aarey colony on Saturday for opposing the felling of over 2,600 trees to make way for a Mumbai Metro car shed.
The protesters were arrested on Saturday after the police imposed section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Aarey, restricting movements and gathering of groups, and cordoned off the area
to allow the BMC to cut trees in the city’s ‘green lung’.
The announcement that the green activists were granted bail was made at a press conference called by their family members against the high handedness of the police.
The court had on Saturday denied them bail and remanded them to judicial custody. They were booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for disturbing public order & obstructing government officials from performing their duties.
Their families, friends and supporters to the cause said they were not satisfied with just getting bail and would seek quashing of the FIR filed against them, and action against the policemen for “manhandling and assaulting” the protesters.
Apart from the 29 arrested, 55 were also detained from the protest site, including NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad, Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi, Sena leader and former Mayor Shubha Raul, from the protest site.
The protests began on Friday evening when MMRCL, within hours of the High Court dismissing four petitions challenging the permission granted by the civic body's tree authority to fell about 2700 trees, started the tree cutting under the cover of darkness.
Speaking at the press conference, the mother of one activist Nelson Lopez asked why the police treated the protesters like criminals.
“What did they do? Now people will be scared to fight for the environment. My son is not a criminal. He was an animal lover. He left dinner to go there and see what was going on. He was so pained to hear trees were getting cut,” she said.
Some students whose friends were among those arrested alleged that police lathi charged them and assaulted them when they were protesting peacefully.
“We were shocked when we found out about the cutting at 8.30pm. We rushed there. Certain technicalities had to be completed by the authorities but they went about the brutal act at lightning speed. The desperation itself shows they knew they were doing something wrong,” said Nishant Bangera, student activist.
He alleged many women and youth were among those who were assaulted by the policemen. He said those detained were kept in lockup all night and even people who were just found standing were detained.