Rattling the authorities in pandemic times, thousands of students trooped out in ‘flash agitations’ in Mumbai, Thane, Beed, Aurangabad, Nashik, Nagpur, Osmanabad and other district to protest against the proposed offline board examinations, on Monday.
In Mumbai, the police resorted to a mild caning, but without any injuries, when a large number of the agitating students attempted to march near the Dharavi home of School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad.
Catching the police and education authorities virtually unawares, big and small groups of youngsters suddenly gathered at predetermined locations, raised slogans against the government and demanded that the offline examinations for Class X and Class XII be cancelled.
Later, officials said that the students were allegedly called for the multi-city agitation by one Vikas Phatak, going by an alias of ‘Hindustani Bhau’, who had posted social media posts for the protests.
The Mumbai Police have decided to conduct a probe into the incident which resulted in violation of Covid-19 protocols, especially physical distancing and other restrictions, with the huge crowds descending unexpectedly, according to Deputy Commissioner of Police Pranay Ashok.
Speaking to local mediapersons, Phatak alleged that the government is not concerned about the health of the students and are forcing them to appear for the physical exams.
“For two years, there have been online classes only, but now they are insisting on offline examinationsa This is not justified,” claimed Pathak.
Minister Prof. Gaikwad appealed to the student community not to resort to such agitations and said she is ready for discussions with any of the leaders to arrive at an amicable solution after discussing with the department officials.
Meanwhile, the agitation was strongly condemned by state Congress President Nana Patole, Chief Spokesperson Atul Londhe, Minister of State for School Education Omprakash Babasaheb alias Bachchu Kadu, and other leaders.
“Which political party is instigating such agitations in the pandemic times…. Even during the pandemic last year, they had provoked youngsters to take to the streets like this in huge numbers and many of them were later infected by Coronavirus,” said Patole.
Londhe targetted the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party for allegedly inciting the student community as it had done during the ‘open temple’ agitations last year, without being concerned about the health and safety of the students.
Kadu sought to know how such protests could be carried out without giving notice or seeking permission from the concerned authorities and urged students to remain patient.