New Delhi: A sessions court on Mumbai granted bail to 29 protesters, who were arrested over Friday on Saturday, for protesting against the felling of trees in the city’s Aarey Colony to make way for a car shed of the Mumbai Metro. Also on Sunday, Mumbai Police removed Section-144, which was imposed at the project site to prevent protesters from gathering there.
The development came just a day before a special two-judge bench of the Supreme Court takes up suo moto cognisance of the case. The bench was constituted by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi after a delegation of students wrote to him, urging him to intervene in the matter.
Hearing bail pleas of the 29 protesters who were arrested by the police, a special Holiday bench of the Dindoshi session court granted them bail observing that most of those arrested were students and women and that there was no need to keep them in jail. The arrest of protesters, including six women and students, and them spending a night in jail, triggered massive public outrage.
The protesters, many of whom had to appear for exams on Monday, were released on a surety or personal bond of Rs 7,000 each.
Protests had broken out at Aarey Colony late Friday after Mumbai Metro authorities began tree-cutting drive hours after the Bombay High Court rejected all petitions against the felling of over 2,500 trees for a Mumbai metro depot. On Saturday, the High Court rejected a review petition, too.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is currently in power in Maharashtra in an alliance with the BJP, has said that his government, ‘if voted back to power, will deal with the murderers of the forest in the best possible manner.’
His son Aaditya, too, has been a vocal critic of the tree-cutting drive at Aarey Colony.