Uddhav Thackeray directs withdrawal of cases against citizens who protested tree felling in Mumbai's Aarey Colony

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday directed the state Home department to withdraw cases registered against protesters in 2019 for opposing felling of trees for a proposed metro car shed in Aarey Colony, a prime green lung of the city. The decision was taken at the state cabinet meeting.

A tweet from the Chief Minister's office said Thackeray has directed the state home department to begin the process of withdrawing the cases.

The request for withdrawal of cases was made at the cabinet meeting by state Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray, which was supported by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and other ministers.

"I thank all the cabinet colleagues of the MVA government for prioritising and realizing the importance of sustainable development and green governance and supporting such issues," Aaditya tweeted.

He said the protesters were citizens standing up for future of the planet.

"To hold them from stopping desired work was one thing but to press police charges was another. We can't have cases against those who stand up for environment and forests," he said in another tweet.

Uddhav Thackeray had announced withdrawal of cases against green activists last December, days after he took oath as chief minister.

Cases were registered after clashes broke out between the police and green activists opposing axing of trees by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) in Aarey Colony last October for construction of a metro car shed for the Metro-3 line.

Police had booked at least 38 protesters under IPC sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from duty) and 143 (unlawful assembly).

Earlier in August, the chief minister had asked the Mumbai Metro and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) officials to examine whether the proposed metro car shed can be shifted to Pahadi Goregaon area near Oshiwara.

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