New Delhi, February 1
The Mumbai police have arrested YouTuber Hindustani Bhau in connection with role in orchestrating the riots in Dharavi where over 1,000 students demanding the cancellation of offline board exams for Class 10 and 12 in view of the pandemic.
The police said Vikas Fhatak (41) aka ‘Hindustani Bhau’ had played an important role in instigating the students. Fhatak, a resident of Khar Danda in Khar (West) was arrested alongwith his aide Ikrar Khan (25).
Bhau’s arrest was also opposed by the students who had surrounded him in large numbers to avert the arrest. The You Tuber was arrested among the sloganeering students who also protested against his arrest.
According to the police, the call for protest was given by Fhatak, a social media influencer who allegedly makes abusive videos. On January 29, he had uploaded a video on Instagram asking students to “peacefully protest” with him against the government’s decision in Dharavi outside the residence of Gaikwad.
He also allegedly appealed to students across Maharashtra to visit education offices in their region with the same demand.
Following this, around 1,000 to 1,500 students gathered outside the minister’s residence between 12 pm to 4 pm on January 31.
The police added that large number of students reached Dharavi from Thane, Kalyan, Badlapur, Vasai, Virar and places in Navi Mumbai. The crowd went beyond control and protests took a violent turn in Mumbai and Nagpur with some students damaging private and police vehicles by pelting stones.
The Mumbai police had to resort to lathi charge to disperse the crowd. Similar protests were carried out in Jalgaon and Aurangabad but no skirmishes were reported there.
The police have registered an FIR against Fhatak and several others under IPC sections 353 (obstructing public servant from discharging duty), 332 (causing hurt to public servant), 427 (mischief causing damage), 109 (abetment) and 114 (abettor present when offence committed), 143, 145, 146, 149 for unlawful assembly and rioting and 188, 269, 270 for violating Covid-19 guidelines. The police have also booked them under section 3 (mischief causing damage) of Prevention of Damage to Public Property act 1984.
The police added that the students gathered near State School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad Gaikwad’s residence. They shouted slogans outside her house and demanded justice. Their primary demand was to cancel the exam, the protesters added that if the exam had to be held, it should be online.
The state government has ordered an inquiry into the protests.