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Aarey Milk Colony, spread over 1,259 hectares of land, is an extension of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. In 1949, the land we know as Aarey was given to the Dairy Development Board of Maharashtra to shift the cattle sheds from the city to Aarey. Since then this area has been known as Aarey Milk Colony. Aarey has 27 tribal hamlets; in terms of flora and fauna, it has leopards and numerous species of birds, animals, insects, butterflies, snakes, herbs, shrubs and trees (which number more than 4 Lakh 80 thousand).

In November 2014 , morning walkers, cyclists and other regular visitors to Aarey Milk Colony found notices put up, announcing that 2298 trees in Aarey would be felled for construction of the carshed for Metro3. Citizens came together to protest against this mass felling of trees. Thus was born the Save Aarey Movement.

In December 2014 angry citizens for the first time gathered in Aarey Picnic Point area to protest against this unnecessary destruction of the city's ecology. 1200 + citizens came together again in February 2015, creating a human chain along Marine Drive. Post this event, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra announced appointment of an Expert Committee to explore other options for location of the Metro3 carshed .

The Expert Committee had 6 members; four Bureaucrats and two environmental experts from IIT and NEERI. Both the environmentalists put a dissenting note in the Committee's report, holding that Aarey is an ecologically sensitive area and rich in biodiversity. The proposed carshed location is the floodplain of the Mithi River, and construction in this area can lead to flooding in Andheri. Hence the carshed location should be shifted out of Aarey, they said .The other options for the carshed location suggested by the expert members were Kanjurmarg and Backbay in Colaba.

The Detailed Project Report prepared in 2011 for the Metro 3 Line also mentions three other options (along with the option of 33 ha land in Aarey) for the Metro 3 Carshed location: the ground in Bandra Kurla Complex, 26 Ha of land in Kalina, the Mahalaxmi Race Course. Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation ( MMRCL) always claims that the 33 ha land area in Aarey is the only suitable location for the Metro 3 Carshed.

In 2015 the NGO, Vanashakti, along with citizens, filed a petition in National Green Tribunal (NGT) praying that Aarey be declared a forest and an Eco-Sensitive Zone. NGT on 19th August 2015, ordered status quo in Aarey pending final decision on the case. MMRCL, in August 2017 started dumping debris in the Metro 3 Carshed area in Aarey, along with excavation and mud filling activities in the area. This was in contempt of Court orders and was highlighted at the NGT. On 14th May 2018, NGT again ordered against any dumping of debris, land reclamation and Tree Felling in Aarey pending final decision in the case. But MMRCL continues to violate court orders. They have cordoned off more area in Aarey on the opposite side of the carshed area and have started land reclamation. What initially started as destruction of 33 ha of forest land is now leading to destruction of a much bigger area. Citizens lodged complaints in Aarey Police Station against these violations of court orders. MMRCL has also evicted Adivasis from Prajapur Pada in Aarey to SRA Buildings. This is in violation with Tribal Rights. Adivasis have filed a petition in Mumbai High Court.

On 20th September 2018 Judges from NGT's Principal Bench decided that this matter of declaring Aarey a Forests does not come under NGT's jurisdiction and NGT directed the petitioners to withdraw application and approach the right Authorities. This has happened after 3 and 1/2 years long proceedings in National Green Tribunal.

Through an RTI in 2017, Vanashakti found a letter written by the Divisional Manager of Sanjay Gandhi National Park( SGNP). This letter indicates that Aarey Milk Colony was of a much larger area earlier, and that 2076 ha of land from Aarey Milk Colony was Transferred to SGNP in 1969. But the forest department claims that they do not have any land records related to Aarey Milk Colony.

The forest department, in 2015, had submitted a draft proposal to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) to declare Aarey Milk Colony as an Eco Sensitive Zone. MMRCL moved an application with the MOEF and got 165 ha of land (1.65 sq km) from Aarey denotified from the Eco Sensitive Zone. The MOEF denotified an area of 1.65 sq km from the ESZ in December 2016. This decision has been challenged by Vanashakti in NGT through a different petition.

Already, a large part of Aarey Forest has been lost to different projects and construction activities. Citizens fear that with the entry of the Metro 3 carshed, better described as a railway service centre, the rest of this forest, spreading over 1259 ha, will be lost to construction activities for ever.

Mumbai City is already sinking because of the destruction of its water bodies, wetlands and mangroves. Loss of Forest area and destruction of the floodplain of the Mithi River in Aarey will lead to further destruction of the city and flooding in more new areas in Mumbai. Lakes , supplying drinking water to Mumbai are also located in Forest Areas. Vihar lake on the border of SGNP and Aarey.

The air quality of Mumbai will be seriously hit if 4000 full grown trees are removed from its last remaining green space,the Aarey forests. .

A Movement that started with the news of felling of 2298 trees has brought out more shocking details. MMRCL floated a tender document for felling of 3384 trees in Aarey Milk Colony in 2017. And number of trees that are in line for sacrifice is still increasing. Tribals have lost their homes and livelihood. Floodplain of Mithi River has been damaged and this city will finally lose 1.65 sq km of forest areas to construction activities if this Carshed is not shifted out of Aarey. Facts finding team of Citizens have also found letters that speak about Government granting 3 FSI on 33 ha (82.5 acres) of Aarey land. A design layout prepared by MMRCL for the Carshed area also has marked an area on 33 ha land for realestate prooject.

Citizens of Mumbai needs to decide what is more important for them. A peaceful and happy life in a place requires, Fresh Air, Good supply of Drinking water , accessible open spaces and flood free roads .

In a Costal city like Mumbai, when the entire world is suffering from the consequences of Global Warming a place like Aarey becomes extremely crucial for survival of the city.

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When the idea of animal sacrifice was born, livestock were wealth. The world has come a long way from that point, and your wealth is now in banks, in expensive possessions like vehicles and laptops. Few Muslims own goats as any investment anymore. It is no sacrifice to kill a goat. There is no emotional attachment, and the "sacrifice" value is at best whatever the price of the goat is, not the animal itself. [Tweet "Why must an animal lose its life for little more reason than an exhibition of worship?"]

It is something Muslims must think about. Do they feel they have sacrificed anything at all of value in taking that life? What did that life mean to them? What was their right to take it, when there is hardly any scarcity of meat on this day?

Muslims object when I bring this up. They say that people distribute excess meat to the poor. To the best of my knowledge, this is at best something people believe because it makes them feel better. I have yet to see Bakri Id gain reputation as a day when poor people can count on being fed well, or at least being certain of having meat to cook for dinner for the next few days. Or perhaps those who know go to places to beg for it. Undoubtedly, a few needy do have full stomachs that day, but to believe that no meat is wasted and it goes to the needy requires a blindness that comes at the cost of countless lives. So what if they are not human? They die for waste in a religion that makes a virtue of simplicity and frugality.

What happens to the left over meat? Some Muslims diligently do distribute it to the needy. Others probably donate it to someone handy waiting to take it with little guarantee that it actually reaches the needy. Still more make a point of distributing meat to the poor to the extent that they will kill more goats just to be able to distribute.

By and large, a large part of the meat ends up as garbage. Homes cook far more than they need to eat. The poor who do avail of the donated meat get far more than they need to eat. People get gifts of meat to add to what they already have. And the fact is, no one can eat so much.

I am not against eating meat. I object to killing far more than you need to eat. If Muslims could eat all the goats they killed, I wouldn't be writing this article at all. It is the same with animal sacrifices in temples, which happen on a smaller scale, and the temple meal itself uses up the meat, but I have objected to the slaughter of a buffalo in a temple once, because it would not be eaten. To any outraged Hindutvavadis, that would be the annual fair of the Hidimba mata mandir in Manali. They can verify. Every year, of the five animals sacrificed, the buffalo gets wasted. No idea if they still do it.

In addition, when families were large tribes and clans with large households, killing and eating a goat made sense. A family of four or five people cannot consume a goat and a thousand families of four and five people cannot even find enough people needing meat on that day without making some serious effort that would take time they don't have, because they will be busy celebrating.

And we aren't even talking here of health risks from lack of hygiene and improper waste disposal, which is common in poorer localities. We aren't talking about sacrificial animals being kept tied in cruel conditions. (FYI, it is cruel for a goat to be tied next to an unfamiliar busy street or be harassed by neighbourhood children and dogs.)

Everything eats something else to live. I imagine a leaf of spinach, by not dying on being plucked gets cut alive right till the point it gets cooked. In comparison, one animal dies on being butchered and at least doesn't get cooked alive. Grains and milk probably are the kindest in that sense, but surely we deprive a calf of its rightful nutrition too? All consumption has an impact on other life to some extent and it is the nature of life. I am not objecting to eating meat. Note. I am objecting to cruelty.

To take life without reason is unjustified cruelty. Is this what you wish to offer your God? The killing of an animal that means little more to you than the price of a phone at a time when you will easily get meat without killing it? That, to my eyes is cruelty. I am an atheist, but I do understand the limited utility of religion as a means of promoting better thought among masses not used to questioning the larger meaning of life, so to say. Every religion claims to promote respect for life and kindness. So does Islam, at least the interpretation people I know insist is the right one.

If Mohammed were alive and looking at Muslims today, would he really say that "sacrifice" - the idea of giving up something you value and need for the larger good - is goat murder?

Perhaps some Muslims still believe that the proper expression of that sacrifice is still a goat and they do not feel comfortable sacrificing anything else. There would still be ways around taking life needlessly.

Several progressive Muslims now get together and slaughter a goat for their entire community, which provides an appropriate amount of meat that can be consumed with lesser waste.

But such thinking requires a willingness to take a good hard look at your own actions and their larger meaning, as opposed to insisting on doing things in a manner that they have been done regardless of whether circumstances around the situation have changed.

For those who believe in the spiritual value of sacrifice, it would make more sense to give up laptop to a poor student, make space in your home for the homeless. That is sacrifice. Not something that does not bother you to give up. Nor is there any "giving up" in eating the "sacrifice" till you have meat coming out of your ears and at no point does anything happen that makes you suffer in the least.

I believe the Quran also insists that Muslims learn.

As Muslims have learned to enjoy photographs and music, as even the most radical Islamic clerics have learned to tolerate passport and driving licence photos at the very least, if Muslims are able to see the larger community as a family, it shouldn't be so difficult to save lives and prevent waste.

By: udeyismail

[Tweet "After all goats are people too!"]

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Please note: This article is specifically about the human rights abuses and rapes in Kashmir as distinct from the larger conflict around Kashmir. I see them as victims of crime, and collecting their suffering for the purpose of a political struggle is putting it on indefinite hold till the political issue is resolved.

Yet another string in a deliberately obfuscated dialogue. Today I finally lost it after hearing for the nth time about the sacrifice of Kashmiri heroes - who happened to be 7000 raped women.

Here is what the dictionary says about sacrifice:

sac·ri·fice  (skr-fs)

n. 

1. 

a. The act of offering something to a deity in propitiation or homage, especially the ritual slaughter of an animal or a person.
b. A victim offered in this way.
2. 

a. Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.
b. Something so forfeited.
3. 

a. Relinquishment of something at less than its presumed value.
b. Something so relinquished.
c. A loss so sustained.
4. Baseball A sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly.
v. sac·ri·ficedsac·ri·fic·ingsac·ri·fic·es
v.tr. 

1. To offer as a sacrifice to a deity.
2. To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value.
3. To sell or give away at a loss.
v.intr. 

1. To make or offer a sacrifice.
2. Baseball To make a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin sacrificiumsacersacred; see sacredfacereto make; see dh- in Indo-European roots.]

sacri·ficer n.

The Kashmiris are so busy presenting themselves as eternallt struggling and suffering and fighting with honor, that it goes to ridiculous extents like calling rape a sacrifice. Now, why would a woman sacrifice something like this to the hated enemy?

It is the same thing with heroes. A hero is one who makes a courageous action. Stone pelters are heroes. Fine. I agree. But then, why are they being talked about as helpless victims? Why is there this endless whining (I am sorry for hurting any sentiments, but I cannot find a better word) that suddenly deflates them from brave warriors to someone needing the mercy of their enemies to perform as planned? Its not like they didn't know that soldiers have guns. It is not like they didn't know that the soldiers would fire, specially considering how much effort they have put into publicizing it. They know. They knowingly take the risk, but if it actually hurts, everyone starts crying and arranges for a few more to get hurt?

This sounds harsh, I am aware. At the same time, as much as India is wrong in its actions, Kashmiris are equally wrong in creating so much melodrama that they are not believed unless something extreme happens.

When you say a woman sacrificed when she got raped, you are implying a certain amount of willingness to go through the suffering for a larger cause. Get a life beyond the publicity department. Those women were not willing. They were victims of a ghastly crime. They didn't sacrifice, they were raped. They are not heroes. They are ordinary people who need far more compassion than being used as propaganda heroes allows them.

Because justice for someone willingly taking a risk and someone unwillingly submitted to horrors is different. Killing a soldier is bad. Killing an innocent civilian is bad. But when the innocent civilian is painted a soldier, he is denied the justice because a soldier is expected to sacrifice in war.

If India is to blame for not bringing about justice, Kashmiris are equally to blame by glorifying the suffering of the meek as a defiant act. It sounds fake. If I tell you about a woman in Mumbai or Delhi whose sacrifice was that she got raped, you will wonder who asked her to do it. Because sacrifice conveys intention, resolve, not a victimization. People who sacrifice walk into it. The Kashmiri women DIDn't intend to get raped. For what gain are these women being publicized like that? For the tiny "noble" word sacrifice to be used as much as possible? When all this bullshit stops, it will become far more easy to prosecute the criminals for their crimes, because their VICTIMS will no longer be obfuscated as warriors, but truly unrelated to their war. They will then be the outright aggressors rather than retaliators.

For this, Kashmir must stop its bravado and get real. Stop pushing vulnerable innocents as warriors. Stop grinding their own innocents in their publicity machine. There was a time when I would have believed the choice of words was accidental, but increasingly, it appears that the publicity of the "Kashmiri cause" is very well designed. If it truly cares about their innocents hurt, then the fact that they were vulnerable, the fact that they were unrelated to the fight, the fact that they are fragile ..... must not be hidden for the sake of false bravado and manufacture of abundant heroes.

The reality is that while many Kashmiris may be angry, the people willing to die in order to fight are largely the militants. They are the ones willing to sacrifice their lives or well being for the cause. They do not get compassion. IF their philosophy is to fight India and be willing to die, there isnt' a country in the world that will blame India for kiling them. Standing those poor women among them is a horrible thing to do. If getting raped is a matter of pride, it psychologically takes away the horror of the abuse, though the facts are still there. Stopping the use of damaging words that convey their bravery in getting raped would be one good way of changing the whole narrative for justice. Will help people "feel" for them rather than just hear the statistics.

The biggest problem for getting justice for these women is the use of their suffering as anti-India propaganda. The women are actually being sacrificed, but not by the soldiers, but their own. When justice for them means letting go of Kashmir, then they actually become warriors in the war, whether they want it or not. They become expendable, caught in the middle of the larger political problem that Kashmir is. If their suffering were not used as propaganda, and if punishing a soldier wouldn't actually lead to worse publicity, it would help remove many political barriers inserted into their justice. If Kashmir truly wants these women to get justice, then that quest must be separated from the larger political struggle. Or it will continue to drag like this till the bigger picture isn't solved. And, because this isn't solved, the political struggle will not get solved. Its like chicken and egg.