CLOSE ON the heels of the announcement by Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that “not a leaf will be cut in Aarey”, the CM on Sunday said that he had ordered withdrawing the cases against green activists who had protested against the tree-cutting.
“Two days back, I ordered a halt on the Metro car shed in Aarey Colony. Some people had come there to protest against the tree-cutting and cases were filed against them. I have given orders to withdraw all the cases. So, there will be no cases against them,” said Uddhav.
Swapnil Pawar, one of the protesters who was arrested, said, “A friend just called to say that he saw on TV that the FIR will be withdrawn. I was in tears hearing this. I am extremely happy and satisfied as we are not criminals but fighting for the environment.” Pawar added that even now, twice a month — alternate Wednesdays — they had to go to the police station. “We had filed an application seeking that this condition be removed or our parents be allowed to visit in our place if we are not in the city,” he added.
After the Bombay High Court ruled in its favour on October 25, MMRCL began chopping trees at Aarey the same night to make way for a Metro car-shed. Several activists gathered at the spot and started protesting. These activists were then detained by the police and an FIR was registered against 29 people. No chargesheet has been filed in the case yet.
While the earlier BJP government had said that it made more financial sense to have the depot at Aarey, all three parties that make up the Maha Vikas Aghadi — Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress — had protested the chopping of trees.
On Sunday morning, NCP leader Jitendra Awhad had tweeted that the government should drop the FIR against the activists who had taken part in the Aarey protests. The case was registered by the Mumbai Police that comes under the state Home department. The NCP is touted to get the Home portfolio in the state Cabinet.
An officer from Aarey police station, where the FIR was registered, said, “We had detained a few hundred people but eventually, in the FIR we named only 29 activists, against whom there was some evidence of manhandling policemen.” The police had then said that two policemen were injured while trying to stop the protesters.
On October 25 night, clashes broke out between the police and green activists who tried to stop the tree cutting by MMRCL in Aarey Colony, which led to the arrest of 29 people. The activists spent a night behind bars and were granted bail by a holiday court on a Sunday. While granting bail, the holiday court had observed that most of those arrested were young students and women and there was no need to keep them behind bars. They were asked to submit a surety bond of Rs 7,000 each.