On Monday, student protests occurred in Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Osmanabad, and a few other cities throughout the state, requesting that offline exams for Classes 10 and 12 be cancelled due to the present epidemic.
The Maharashtra administration was taken off guard by the revolt, which was first reported on television news channels by senior ministers such as School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad and her deputy Bacchu Kadu.
After watching a video by Vikas Fhatak alias Hindustani Bhau, who expressed concerns about offline exams for Classes 10 and 12, students reportedly took to the streets.
Several hundred students protested near the residence of Gaikwad in Dharavi, Mumbai. The protest took place in Ashok Mill Naka in Dharavi and police had to resort to a mild baton charge to stop them from moving towards the minister’s residence in the vicinity, an officer said.
The students were holding placards and shouting slogans for the cancellation of board exams amid the pandemic scenario.
Students, who had assembled from areas like Thane and Nashik besides the metropolis on the basis of information shared on social media, did not have permission for the protest, a police officer added.
“No student was injured in the lathicharge. Some of them were brought to the local police station and released soon after,” he said.
They shouted slogans while at Nagpur, some students attempted to damage a schoolbus that led police to intervene and resort to lathicharge.
Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil has ordered an inquiry into Monday’s protest. He asked police to contain the crowds. “If the students in the state wanted to have a say on their issues, they should have raised with the state government,” he said.
“Also, we do not think that students took to the road of their own accord. There is someone behind this,” he added.
Expressing the possibility that the students were deliberately spurred into agitation, Walse Patil said that he had ordered an inquiry by the police department.
“In the last two days, students have been provoked by many viral videos. The agitation took place in big cities like Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur.
All this seems to be premeditated and there is definitely an organisation behind this, the police will investigate it,” said Walse Patil.
He added that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Gaikwad would decide with regard to the upcoming examinations.
“Students should sit at home and study in peace. The government cares about their interests,” said the minister. He announced that action would be taken against the culprits after investigation.
Monday’s protests occurred days before the commencement of offline exams for Classes 10 and 12. As reported by The Free Press Journal, Class 12 exams will start from March 4 while Class 10 exams begin in the state from March 15.
Meanwhile, Gaikwad urged the students not to resort to protests, saying that the state government was concerned about their interests and future. “We are ready for talks. Organisations should not bring children to the streets,” she said.
“We are considering all the issues while conducting the exams. It is not right for organisations to bring children to the streets. If there is anything to talk about, they can discuss it with us. We are fully prepared to discuss. We will also discuss with education experts.
The government and the education department are ready to listen to any suggestions from the students,” said Gaikwad.
On the other hand, Kadu suspected the involvement of people who were not associated with the education sector in today’s protests.
“Just because some students hit the roads, it does not mean it is the view of all students. The government is resolved to protect students’ interests,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the state council Pravin Darekar criticised the police lathicharge on protesting students saying that the government needs to seriously look into the issues raised by them.