The Mumbai Police on Sunday detained Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi leader Prakash Ambedkar, who had come to the city’s Aarey Milk Colony to protest the cutting of trees for a metro project, News18 reported. Following his detention, Ambedkar tweeted to his followers asking them not to believe rumours.
“The @VBAforIndia has been against the Aarey tree-cutting from the start,” Ambedkar tweeted, referring to his political party. “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.”
Earlier in the day, the Mumbai Police arrested at least 29 people for protesting against the authorities’ move to cut trees. They were granted bail in the evening. They are among the 60 people who were detained by the police for allegedly getting into a scuffle with officials and assaulting them.
The police have imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the area, banning the assembly of more than four people.
The protestors started demonstrating against the authorities’ move to start cutting trees in the area on Friday night to clear the area for a metro car shed, hours after the Bombay High Court rejected petitions against the exercise. The police charged at protestors with batons even as many demonstrators camped outside Aarey through the night. The police stopped people from entering the area, according to unidentified officials. According to some accounts on social media, residents were not allowed to enter the area, and buses were also stopped.
Shiv Sena Corporator Sheetal Mhatre and party leader Priyanka Chaturvedi were among those detained by the police. Their colleague Aaditya Thackeray, the son of party President Uddhav Thackeray, took to social media on Friday night to criticise the authorities. The Shiv Sena is part of the ruling coalition in the state, and is also in power in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Opposition parties the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress criticised the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party for failing to save the Aarey forest.
“The Aarey tree felling is nothing but hitting Mumbaikars by first rendering them helpless,” tweeted NCP leader Nawab Malik. “The Shiv Sena bedeviled for the last 25 years. Now, it is holding common Mumbaikars to ransom in alliance with BJP.”
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