The Gamdevi Police arrested four persons for allegedly trimming the branches of a massive banyan tree at Girgaum Chowpatty last week. The accused hacked the branches of tree allegedly posing as BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) labourers to clear the commercial hoarding located nearby a traffic junction.
During the investigation it was revealed that the accused had similarly cut branches of three other trees near Mahalaxmi Temple and in Walkeshwar area as well, said police.
The four have been identified as Sameer Qureshi (31), Shafiq Darji (27), Heeralal Darshan (42) and Mohammad Parvez (27). All four are labourers while the people who gave them the contract are yet to be arrested.
"The four accused have been arrested for impersonating as 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 them when they were cutting the tree branches. The workers were wearing reflective jackets generally used by civic workers while working during night. The labourers then told the people that they are BMC workers and trimming the tree branches as per the order.
The locals tweeted the video tagging Chief Minister's Office. When the BMC officials tried to verify, it was realised that no such permission was given. The BMC officials then asked the Gamdevi Police to register an offence against them. When the BMC officials conducted survey of area it was realised that the branches of two more banyan trees were trimmed near Mahalaxmi Mandir while a gulmohar tree was hacked at Walkeshwar. Accordingly separate offences were registered with Gamdevi and Malabar Hill police stations.
On Saturday, Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray visited Girgaum Chowpatty along with senior police officials and assured stern action against the accused.