Barely 20 minutes after protesters gathered at Bandra Reclamation on Sunday morning, demanding that the government declare a climate emergency, the police dispersed them. Many claimed that the police warned them that they could not to talk about the Aarey issue.
Organised by a volunteer-led group called Extinction Rebellion (XR), the agitators, including schoolchildren and college students, planned a mock die-in. Following the disruption, they shifted their venue to a nearby parking lot.
XR has been in the news for its protests across the world. Last week, the group gathered in London spilling red paint to resemble blood, and raised a sign that read ‘stop funding climate death’.
In Mumbai, the group planned a more subtle protest with participants lying down as dead. “Policemen were already present before we reached the venue. We showed them our permission letters but they said no gathering would be allowed as Section 144 was in force,” an XR volunteer told The Hindu , adding the policemen also told them that they could not talk about or discuss the Aarey issue.
“We had a few students from Tata Institute of Social Sciences who had come down to talk about Aarey but they had to go back due to the police diktat,” he said.
The group had initially planned to march to Aarey colony following the Bandra protest. But they had to cancel it in view of the police action against the protesters who assembled at Aarey. “We did not want to risk the safety of the people,” the volunteer said.
He also said they will approach the Mayor to demand a declaration of climate crisis in Mumbai. The group has planned similar events in other cities.
A press statement from XR said they are a group standing up for Indian assets that matter to all Indians first, and specifically Mumbaikars – forests, rivers, wetlands, oceans, humans, and animals. “It’s quite shocking to see authorities intervene and be present widely for a planned event on climate change.”