SHOCKING! Mumbai man brutally beaten up for trying to save tree

Mar 19, 2014, 06:27 IST | Saurabh Vaktania

A 57-year-old man from Bandra was brutally beaten up when he tried stopping a builder’s henchmen from uprooting a mango tree he himself had planted 25 years ago.

Akbar Siraj Khan was in the ICU for 10 days
Akbar Siraj Khan was in the ICU for 10 days

The assault landed him in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a hospital. Shockingly, the incident occurred barely 100 metres away from the Bandra police station.

The mango tree being uprooted outside his Bandra Reclamation residence on March 5
The mango tree being uprooted outside his Bandra Reclamation residence on March 5

The incident occurred on March 5 with Akbar Siraj Khan, who has been a production executive in the film industry for the last 18 years. Khan had planted the mango tree when his daughter was born.

Akbar Siraj Khan had planted two mango trees 25 years ago on the birth of his daughter one in a school, and one that was uprooted by the builder’s goons outside his Bandra Reclamation residence
Akbar Siraj Khan had planted two mango trees 25 years ago on the birth of his daughter one in a school, and one that was uprooted by the builder’s goons outside his Bandra Reclamation residence

He said, “I was emotionally attached to the tree, which I had planted when my daughter Almas was born 25 years ago. I had been nurturing this tree as a child, watching it grow from a single seed.”

A team of around 20 people came to uproot the tree to make way for a building being constructed by Pyramid Developers, says Khan
A team of around 20 people came to uproot the tree to make way for a building being constructed by Pyramid Developers, says Khan

The incident
On that day, a team of around twenty men showed up to uproot the tree from the spot to make way for a building, which Khan claims, is being built by Pyramid Developers.

“I was traumatised when I saw the JCB machine that had come to uproot the tree. I had been fighting to save this tree since last two years,” said the resident of Jamat Jamuriya, Reclamation in Bandra (West).

As soon as he saw the squad, he called up 100. A few minutes later, he claims, the beat marshals did arrive on the spot. “However, they took bribes and left. I begged the people not to touch my tree. But several people surrounded me and didn’t let me move,” said Khan.

Attacked by goons
When the machine moved forward to cut the tree, Khan tried running towards the tree to oppose the men. One of the men hit him on the head with an iron rod, and soon, several others allegedly joined in to rain punches, kicks and assaults with iron rods.

“I saw my 12-year-old girl crying for help, but no one came forward. A hundred people or so had gathered, and they all watched,” recalled Khan. After he went unconscious, the team proceeded to destroy the tree. Meanwhile, locals took Khan to Bhabha Hospital. He was later shifted to Lilavati Hospital. He was in the ICU for one-and-a-half weeks.

Copspeak
Senior police inspector Ramchandra Dhawale of Bandra police station said, “We have registered a case under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt with dangerous weapons), 504 (intentional insult with intention to provoke beach of peace) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) against three people.

They are still at large. We are also adding sections for illegally cutting a tree in the FIR. Further investigations are on.” However, Zahid Khan, a local social worker, felt it wasn’t enough.

“The tree was uprooted right in front of our eyes and they took it in the dumper. We have written to the higher officials, as a simple assault case has been lodged, whereas it is an attempt to murder. This charge should be added and the accused should be arrested.”

The Other Side
The concerned party, Pyramid Developers, denied any part in the incident, saying the fight was between Khan and his local rivals. Iqbal Ratansi from Pyramid Developers said, “I am not aware of the matter; I was out of town. This is some issue involving a mosque. We have nothing to do with it and Khan’s personal rivalry is behind the whole thing. We aren’t involved in it.”

>> Incident occurred on March 5 just outside Bandra police station
>> Victim is a 57-year-old production executive in the film industry
>> He had planted the tree when his daughter was born

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