Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday has directed the Home Department to immediately start the procedure to withdraw charges against citizens who had protested felling of trees for the construction of the proposed car shed at Aarey Colony last year. Thackeray on December 2 last year had ordered withdrawing the cases against green activists who had protested against the tree-cutting but there was no action from the Mumbai Police.
In October last year, clashes broke out between the police and green activists who tried to stop the tree cutting by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation 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. The police had booked 38 protesters under various sections of Indian Penal Code but arrested 29 people.
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.
Minister of Housing Jitendra Awhad, who had visited the site, had repeatedly demanded that the offences against those activists should be withdrawn. Finally the state cabinet on Wednesday took a decision in this regard.
Tourism and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray in a tweet said, ‘’ I raised the issue of cases on those who protested against the tree hacking in Aarey last year, in a cabinet meeting today. I was backed by Ministers Jitendra Awhad and Aslam Shaikh. The cabinet has decided to withdraw these cases. These were citizens/ protestors standing for the future of our planet. To hold them from stopping desired work was one thing but to press police charges was another. We can’t have cases against those who stand up for environment and forests.’’
He further said, ‘’ I thank all the cabinet colleagues of the MVA Government for prioritising and realising the importance of sustainable development and green governance and supporting such issues.’’