29 environmentalists demand apology from govt & police
Photo by BL Soni

Mumbai: 29 environmentalists who were arrested for stopping the hacking of trees at Aarey on the night of October 4, have placed three demands before the government by calling a press conference on Thursday afternoon at Press Club in Mumbai. They shared their agony

In a Press Conference in Mumbai on Thursday, the activists shared their bitter experiences of how police dispersed them with lathis, when they claimed, they had conducted only a silent protest at Aarey. The activists had surrounded the authorities who had moved machines to axe thousands of trees and many stuck to the trunks of the trees to protest in non-violent method.

Hence, the activists demanded, the charges framed against them to be dropped immediately. They also have demanded the police tender an apology for the atrocities committed against them and an independent committee to enquire whose permission did police take to behave harsh with citizens.

The protestors said, "The police have forgotten to differentiate between silent protestors and criminals. They treat all citizens as if they are serious rioters. Women were also dragged and beaten by the police. The stories of young men and women who were arrested that night. It goes to show that Mumbai police desperately need training in progressive thought and behaviour."

These 29 citizens were arrested under serious charges for 'peaceful protests'. Majority of these young men and women are from a middle-class families, while many are students, professionals, homemakers and Adivasis.

On October 4, after the Bombay High Court dismissed two petitions against felling of trees for clearing way for Metro-III carshed at Aarey. The cases were dismissed and the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd moved machines to axe all the trees. Citizens rushed to Aarey to protect the trees and accused the state of breaching the spirit of the law.

There were scores of witnesses to the entire incident and videos were circulated on all social media platforms which evoked outrage across the country. "It is a matter of international shame that our police behaved in such a manner. If this is how police treat educated men and women, we shudder to think how they must be treating the illiterate and poor,” said Sapna Swath, one of the protestors.

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