Aarey Colony row: Families on officials, 'What right do they have to arrest those protesting peacefully?'
As officials continue to cut trees after putting Aarey Colony under police clampdown, families of those arrested speak out
The area near Aarey Milk Colony continued to resemble a fortress on Sunday, with hundreds of cops shutting off entry points, including from WEH Goregaon, from Powai near Filterpada and from Marol. Those staying inside Aarey had to show their identity cards or address proof to be allowed inside. Furious family members and friends of those arrested for protesting against the chopping of trees in Aarey vented their anger at the government at a press conference at Goregaon East.
Prakash Bhoir, whose wife was arrested
"On Friday night, my wife, Pramila, rushed to the spot along with other tribal members. All of them were peacefully protesting. Yet, the police used force and arrested them under serious charges of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Youngsters and women were allegedly manhandled by the police, which clearly indicates the intentions of the government. We tribals worship trees and animals and will fight till our last breath to protect the forest. I am proud of all those who stood by Aarey and went to jail. They are the real heroes. People in 27 tribal hamlets are living in fear for past three days as police are stopping locals and questioning them when they step out of the house. We have never faced such a situation in life."
Manisha Dhinde (a tribal), who was arrested
"I was born and brought up in Aarey. For us the forest and animals are our gods and we can't sit quiet on seeing a tree being cut. I rushed to the spot but the police stopped us from seeing the massacre that was shamefully happening under cover of darkness. A male police officer pushed me back though we were peacefully protesting. Post 3 am on Saturday, the police threatened us with lathi charge if we didn't move away from the location and in no time they locked us up in Dahisar police station. Next day I had a college exam and after many requests I was let off but detained again later. Only after my college principal spoke to the police over the phone that they let me go for the exam."
Shobha Salve, whose nephew, Siddharth Sapkale, was arrested
"My nephew Siddharth was picked up for peacefully protesting. We are now happy about the fact that those arrested have been granted bail, but we expect the government to drop the serious charges."
Ajay Belose, a friend of Siddharth Anubhane, who was arrested
"The government is already facing a lot of criticism as police have manhandled women and protesters and so the chief minister should look into the issue and drop the charges against the protesters."
Riddhi, sister of Siddharth A, who was arrested
"At 10.30 am on Saturday my brother called us and we were shocked to know that he was arrested. I immediately reached the police station and tried talking to police but they didn't listen to us. By 3 pm they were taken to the Borivali court but we weren't allowed to be present."
Riyaz Merchant whose friends Shruti Madhvan and Nelson Lopes were arrested
"Late at night I was shocked to receive a message from Shruti saying a male police officer manhandled her. Nelson was also arrested. The charges under which the action was taken are not right."
Helen Lopes, Nelson's mother
"Around 10.30 am one of Nelson's college friends told me about his arrest. Why were our kids treated as hardcore criminals because they were protesting against the cutting of trees? What message does the government want to give the people? I am proud of everyone who opposed the tree cutting. We also want the metro but at what cost?"
Divya Potdar, mother of Divyang, who was arrested
"I have no words to express my anger towards the government which is using force to silence the voice of peaceful protesters. All the 29 people who were arrested have been wrongly framed and I condemn this government."
Jayshri Khadi, wife of Shashikant Sonawane, who was arrested
"Protecting the environment is our fundamental duty and we will oppose every project that will have a negative impact on forests because development at the cost of the environment is not needed."
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