Several hundred students protested on Monday (January 31) near the residence of Maharashtra school education minister Varsha Gaikwad in Mumbai demanding that exams for classes X to XII be conducted online amid the coronavirus pandemic.
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 official said.
The 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, the police official added.
“No student was injured in the lathicharge. Some of them were brought to the local police station and released soon after,” he said.
Police were baffled by the sudden gathering of students. Prima facie they attribute this “illegal gathering” to Marathi YouTube star Vikas Pathak alias ‘Hindustani Bhau’, who had released a video some time back, exhorting students to gather outside the education minister’s residence to register their protest. It is said the YouTuber too had visited the spot of protest briefly on Monday. The Mumbai police are now on the lookout for ‘Hindustani Bhau’.
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A few hours after the protest, ‘Hindustani Bhau’ released another video, accepting his role in instigating the protest. “I do not belong to any political outfit. I called the protest because the government isn’t listening to these children, who are under immense pressure for the last three months. Had they (the state government) paid attention to the class X and XII students’ concerns, this day would not have come,” he said.
The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education recently declared that it will hold class X exams from March 15 while for HSC students the theory board exams are slated to begin from March 4.
Last year, the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education had cancelled both HSC and SSC exams due to COVID second wave. The results were declared based on internal evaluation.