Mumbai: Men posing as civic staff chop off branches, 4 held

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Mumbai, Feb 8 (PTI) Four people were arrested and three are wanted for allegedly chopping off branches of trees to improve the visibility of advertisement hoardings in south Mumbai, police said on Monday.

The men came wearing uniforms and reflective jackets similar to the ones of civic staff in the metropolis, and, on February 3, chopped off branches of a 25-year-old gulmohur tree near a bungalow on Walkeshwar Road and later cut branches of two banyan trees and a fig tree close to Chagan Mitha petrol pump near Mahalaxmi temple, a Gamdevi police station official said.

'We arrested four people on Saturday and are on the lookout for three others who sub-contracted branch-chopping work to the quartet. The arrested persons were identified as Samir Qureshi, Shafique Darjee, Hiralal Darshan and Parvez alias Chinu,' he said.

Gamdevi police station senior inspector Piyarelal Rajbhar said probe was underway to find out who was behind this move to chop tree branches, adding that involvement of BMC officials, if any, will also be looked into.

A banyan tree was cut down in Bandra Bandstand on February 3 and people's condemnation tweets tagging Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray led to state environment minister Aaditya Thackeray visiting the site the next day, officials said.

Police said cases under sections 379 (theft), 170 (personating a public servant) 171 (wearing garb or carrying token used by public servant with fraudulent intent) of IPC and provisions of Environment Act have been registered. PTI ZA BNM BNM