Protestors complain of police high-handedness; They were clueless of their arrests

Mumbai: The 29 Aarey protestors who were detained on October 4, arrested the next day early morning, claim they were not informed of any crime they had committed for being sent to the lock-up the entire night. Initially, many thought they were detained by police in their bid to control the crowd and defended saying, they had not assaulted any police. They were booked for deterring a public servant from discharge of his duty, assault on policemen and unlawful assembly. The protestors spent a night in lock-up, before being released on bail.

A day after the 29 protestors, mostly students, who were released from Thane jail said, they defended their arrest was not justified. Most of the protestors seem scared and refrained from commenting on the incident, fearing further police action. A Virar-based businessman and environment activist were shocked with their arrest.

"After I learnt about the trees being chopped in Aarey, on Friday evening, we all rushed immediately to the spot. After we saw police shielding those hacking the tree, all protestors were enraged. We tried to stop by clinging to the trees and immediately the police swung into action. We were randomly picked up and pushed into the police vans. We were taken to the police station and kept in the lock up till next morning. Only then the police informed us we had been arrested," said Kamble.

Narrating the incident, Kamble said, protestors were taken to the Thane jail, where the jail authorities treated them empathetically. "Since we were not criminals and had only protested, the policemen were polite with us. Most of the others were students and they were tensed about their college and examinations. The police were empathetic about our arrests," added Kamble.

Contradictory to what police charged the protestors with, mainly assault and causing hurt to the policemen on duty, the protestors asserted, they had not assaulted the policemen.

Another protestor, a collegian, said, "We were randomly picked up and taken to various police stations. Despite requesting the police officers to let us go, they did not spare us."

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