Aarey: Protesters released from jail, Sec 144 relaxed

A policeman walks past a child holding a poster as she protests against the destruction of Aarey forest which they call "Mumbai's Amazon", after the government approved cutting down 2,700 trees for constructing a metro train car shed, in Mumbai. (AFP Photo)

All 29 protesters, arrested for allegedly obstructing and assaulting police personnel during the felling of trees at the Aarey Colony here, have been released from jail after being granted bail, officials said on Monday.

Mumbai Police have also relaxed prohibitory orders imposed in the Aarey Colony and its surrounding areas.

A court here on Sunday ordered the release of protesters on certain conditions, including the production of the personal surety of Rs 7,000 and assurance that they would not take part in protests.

Following the court order, 24 of the protesters, lodged in Thane Central Jail, were released in the wee hours of Monday, a police official said.

Besides, five women protesters, who were lodged in the Byculla Jail here, were also set free after completion of the legal formalities, he said.

Read More: Don't cut more trees, SC tells Maha govt on Aarey row

The arrests were made on Friday and Saturday after clashes broke out between the police and green activists opposing axing of trees by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) in the Aarey Colony.

Meanwhile, the police also relaxed prohibitory orders, imposed under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) Section 144 in Aarey Colony and surrounding areas, another official said.

"We have not lifted Section 144 completely, but relaxed it, allowing residents of the area to enter or move out. But, action will be taken if we find any unlawful assembly or anyone breaking law in Aarey," Mumbai Police spokesperson Pranay Ashok said.

The police imposed Section 144 in the area on Saturday, following protests by activists against the felling of trees in the green zone to make way for a Metro car shed.

In a related development, the Supreme Court on Monday restrained authorities from cutting any more trees in the area.

A special bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan said it will have to examine the entire thing and posted the matter for hearing on October 21 before its forest bench.

The apex court directed that if anybody is still under arrest for protesting the cutting of trees, they should be released forthwith on furnishing of personal bonds.

During the hearing, the Maharashtra government told the bench that all those arrested for protesting against cutting of trees in Aarey have been released.

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