A holiday court on Sunday released 29 people who had been arrested on Saturday for protesting against the felling of trees in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, The Hindu reported. Protests have been held since Friday against the cutting of thousands of trees for the purpose of building a metro car shed, and around 60 people had been detained.
“They have been granted conditional bail on a cash bond of Rs 7,000 each,” advocate Aditya Bambulkar, who appeared for the accused, said. “The conditions of the bail also require them to appear at the police station for inquiries.”
Earlier on Sunday, the police detained Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi leader Prakash Ambedkar and took him to the Powai police station. Ambedkar later tweeted to his followers telling them he had not been arrested, and asked them not to believe rumours.
The police have imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the area, banning the assembly of more than four people.
The protestors had 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.
On Saturday, a number of Bollywood celebrities tweeted against the move to cut trees. The celebrities included actors Madhuri Dixit, Swara Bhasker, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and filmmaker Karan Johar, among others.
Shiv Sena Corporator Sheetal Mhatre and party leader Priyanka Chaturvedi were among those detained by the police on Saturday. Their colleague Aaditya Thackeray, who is 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.
However, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation chief Ashwini Bhide said on Sunday that the felling of trees was destruction that was “inevitable”. “Sometimes to construct something new destruction becomes inevitable but it also paves the way for new life and new creation,” she tweeted. Bhide also asserted that the “life cycle [of nature] never stops”.
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