Section 144 Imposed In Aarey Colony Following Protests Over Tree Cutting
Activists gather in Aarey colony in Mumbai late on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Source: PTI) 

Section 144 Imposed In Aarey Colony Following Protests Over Tree Cutting

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Mumbai Police imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in Aarey Colony and surrounding areas on Saturday, banning unlawful assembly, following protests by activists against the felling of trees in the green zone for a Metro car shed, an official said.

Police have booked 38 protesters since late Friday night, the official said. Another official said over 60 people protesting against the felling of trees have been detained.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. started cutting trees late Friday night to make way for the car shed, hours after the Bombay High Court dismissed four pleas filed by NGOs and activists challenging the decision to allow felling of trees in the prime green lung of the city.

As the MMRCL started cutting trees, hundreds of green activists held protests and tried to stop the action.

We have imposed section 144 of the CrPC in Aarey Colony, Goregaon check post and surrounding areas.
Mumbai Police Spokesperson

As of now, at least 38 protesters have been booked under 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), he said.

Hundreds of people gathered at the site of the proposed car shed after they were informed that trees were being axed by authorities late Friday night.

However, the police started dispersing the crowd and had to forcibly remove the protesters, the official said.

When the situation worsened, police started taking protesters into custody.

Around 60 protesters were detained by Aarey police, he added.

Police have cordoned off the area and people are not allowed to enter the locality.

NGT To Hear Plea On Oct. 10

Environment activists criticised the authorities, claiming that almost 200 trees have been cut so far. They alleged the metro corporation wants to finish the job before Oct. 10, when the matter comes before the National Green Tribunal.

"This matter is going to be heard by the NGT on Oct. 10, and we hope to get some respite from there. But it seems like the authorities want to eliminate the entire green patch before the hearing," Stalin D, one of the activists, said.

Shiv Sena Extends Support To Protestors

Meanwhile, Shiva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, who is contesting the Oct. 21 assembly election from Worli, extended his support to the protesters.

"A project that should be executed with pride, the Metro 3, @MumbaiMetro3 has to do it in the cover of the night, with shame, slyness and heavy cop cover. The project supposed to get Mumbai clean air, is hacking down a forest with a leopard, rusty spotted cat and more," he tweeted.

Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon said cutting the trees was "a violation of the model code of conduct".

"The order was uploaded by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation only today, so it is deemed as an order today. They can't issue such orders when the code of conduct is in place," she told PTI.

Also read: Aarey Forest Row: What Will It Take To Shift The Site Of Mumbai’s Contested Metro Car Shed?

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