A large number of students across varied cities within the state, including Mumbai, held protests on Monday, demanding the cancellation of offline board examinations for classes 10 and 12 given the Covid-19 pandemic. The protests took a violent turn in Mumbai and Nagpur, with some students damaging private and police vehicles by hurtling monuments and blocking roads. While protests at Jalgaon and Aurangabad remained peaceful, at Mumbai and Nagpur, regional police had to resort to lathi-charge to disperse the mob of students, utmost of whom were minors. Around to students gathered outside the Dharavi residence of state School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad between 12 pm to 4 pm on Monday. Police said the group gradually swelled around 3 pm when numerous students from far-out places like Thane, Kalyan, Badlapur, Vasai, Virar and places in Navi Mumbai reached the spot using local trains. The call for the protest was given by a social media influencer Vikas Fhatak, alias‘Hindustani Bhau’, who allegedly makes invective videos on social media. He also appealed to students across Maharashtra to go to education departments in their region with an original demand.
The videos are available on his social media handle. As they gathered near Gaikwad’s house in Dharavi, students were heard yelling slogans demanding justice. According to them, they aren't prepared to appear for the board examination that's to begin in March. While their primary demand is to cancel the examination, protesters said if the examination has got to be held, it should be held online. “ Until and unless the pandemic is over, there should not be examinations. Numerous students have formerly lost their lives because of depression. Due to online classes, many have lost out on academics without adequate access. The government should cancel the examination, considering the physical and mental health of these students. Else, hold an online examination, just as the studies were done online,” Fhatak had said in one of his videos.
He was companied down by police after students started getting restless. The police afterwards had to use force to disperse the students. State Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil told the media, “ I've given orders to the regional department to see what all factors led to the incident. In the last two days, some videos went viral during which provocation was given to protest in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. This was a planned protest administered by some organisations and we will take befitting action against them. About the problems raised by students, the education minister and chief minister will check out the matter and can find an appropriate solution.” The Police has registered FIR under Sections 353, 332 (Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from duty), 427, 109, 114 (Abettor present when offence committed), 143(unlawful assembly), 145, 146 (rioting), 149, 188, 269, 270 of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of Maharashtra Police Act, Disaster Management Act and Maharashtra Prevention of Defacement of Property Act. State education officials have ruled out any chance of exams either being held online or getting cancelled.
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