Section 144 imposed in Aarey colony; 29 held, opposition cries foul

People were stopped from entering Aarey Colony after activists were arrested for protesting against felling of trees in the area. Photo: ANI/Twitter.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 were imposed at the Aarey colony in Mumbai, on Saturday (October 5), after hundreds of activists tried to stop officials from cutting down the trees in the area, Mumbai police PRO said on Twitter.

The Police have arrested 29 people so far, and the opposition leaders of NCP and Congress in Maharashtra targeted the Shiv Sena and BJP, saying the ruling parties have failed to save trees in Aarey Colony.

As of now, at least 29 protesters have been booked under Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), Section 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), Section 143 (unlawful assembly) and Section 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), a Mumbai police spokesperson said.

In a veiled dig at Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, the Nationalist Congress Party asked where were the “fake environment lovers” when the hacking of trees began late Friday night.


“The Aarey tree felling is nothing but hitting Mumbaikars by first rendering them helpless. The @ShivSena bedeviled for the last 25 years. Now, it is holding common Mumbaikars to ransom in alliance with BJP,” NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik tweeted.

“Where were fake environment lovers who championed the ban on plastic when the tree felling started?” Malik asked on the micro-blogging site, tagging Thackeray and the BJP.

Another NCP leader, Dhananjay Munde, condemned the “slaughtering” of trees and accused the state government of “muzzling” the voices of people who protested against it.

The Congress, on the other hand, asked the Sena if its alliance with the BJP was more important than saving the trees. “This is the time @ShivSena. You are in the government, can stop this. The Mahayuti (mega alliance) is more important or the mega loss of trees?”

Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant tweeted. Banners had been placed in Worli, from where Thackeray is contesting the October 21 assembly polls, in which the Shiv Sena leader is seen asking in Gujarati “Kem chho Worli?” (How are you Worli?). Referring to the banners, Sawant asked Thackeray to at least say, “Kem chho #AareyForest”.

Hours after the Bombay High Court dismissed petitions opposing the felling of trees in Aarey Colony, a prime green lung of the city in north Mumbai, activists alleged that authorities had already started hacking trees on Friday (October 4) night.

More than 2,600 trees are to be allegedly felled for a car shed that will be built for the Mumbai Metro. “Two hundred trees had been cut by Friday night,” activists claimed. They also alleged that the metro corporation wants to finish the job before October 10, when the matter will be taken up before the National Green Tribunal.

“This matter is going to be heard by the NGT on October 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.

A few protesters camped outside Aarey throughout the night since the Mumbai police barred them from entering the colony.

Videos of tree-felling went viral on social media, though it could not be confirmed from Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation officials if indeed tree-cutting for the planned metro car shed in Aarey had begun.

But the site of the proposed car shed saw heavy police deployment as hundreds of people gathered there late on Friday (October 4) night to stop trees from being hacked.

“No one is allowed to enter Aarey Colony. Even tourists are being stopped,” an activist said.

Several tweets lambasted the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra as well as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation over the issue.

After the video went viral, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, who is contesting the October 21 assembly election from Worli, pointed out on Twitter that the Mumbai metro project, which should’ve been carried out “with pride” was being covered up by cops and done in secret.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Preeti Menon Sharma stated that tree-cutting was a violation of the poll code in force for the October 21 Assembly elections. “The order was uploaded by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation only today, so it is deemed an order today. They can’t issue such orders when the code of conduct is in place,” she told PTI.

(With inputs from agencies)