Mumbai: The Gamdevi police arrested four persons for allegedly hacking a massive banyan tree at Girgaum Chowpatty last week. The accused hacked the tree allegedly posing as BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) labourers to clear the commercial hoarding located nearby traffic junction.
During the investigation it was revealed that the accused had similarly hacked three other trees near Mahalaxmi Temple and in Walkeshwar area as well, said police.
The four are identified as Sameer Qureshi (31), Shafiq Darji (27), Heeralal Darshan (42) and Mohammad Parvez (27). All four are labourers while the people who gave then contract are yet to be arrested.
"The four accused have been arrested for personating a public servant (170), wearing garb or carrying token used by public servant with fraudulent intent (171) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with the provisions of Maharashtra Preservation of Trees act, "said R Rajbhar, senior inspector of Gamdevi police station.
The incident came to light last week when morning walkers at the Girgaum Chowpatty confronted the 'workers' when they were cutting the tree branches. The workers were wearing reflective jackets generaly wear by civic workers while working during night. The labourers then told the people that they are BMC workers and triming the tree on order.
Unsatisfied with their answers, the locals Twitted the video taging Chief Minister's Office. When the BMC officials tried to verify at their end it was realised that no such permission was given.
The BMC officials then asked the Gamdevi police to registered an offence against the culprits. When the BMC officials conducted survey of area it was realised that another two banyan trees were hacked near Mahalaxmi Mandir while another gulmohar tree was hacked at Walkeshwar.
Accordingly seperate offences were registered at Gamdevi and Malabar Hill police station.
On Saturday, Tourism minister Aditya Thackeray visited Girgaum Chowpatty along with senior police officials and assured stern action against the accused.