Social media influencer Vikas Fhatak (41) alias ‘Hindustani bhau’ was on Saturday afternoon produced before a magistrate court in Bandra and remanded in judicial custody. He was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly provoking students of classes 10 and 12 to protest against the offline board exams to be held in Maharashtra. Fhatak allegedly orchestrated riots outside the Dharavi residence of Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad on Monday.
His lawyer Mahesh Mule has moved the magistrate court for bail, the hearing for which has been scheduled on Monday. Till then, Fhatak will remain in jail.
An FIR has been registered 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 the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act 1984.
A large number of students across various cities in the state, including Mumbai, had held protests on Monday demanding the cancellation of offline board exams for classes 10 and 12 in view of the pandemic. The protests took a violent turn in Mumbai and Nagpur, with some students damaging private and police vehicles by pelting stones and blocking roads. While the protests at Jalgaon and Aurangabad remained peaceful, in Mumbai and Nagpur, local police had to resort to lathi-charge to disperse the mob of students, most of whom were minors.
On the day, around 1,000 to 1,500 students had gathered outside the residence of minister Gaikwad. The police said the crowd gradually swelled around 3 pm, when many students from far- off places like Thane, Kalyan, Badlapur, Vasai, Virar and places in Navi Mumbai reached the spot.
A senior citizen woman and a cop were injured in the rioting. Another FIR has been registered against Fhatak in Nagpur for orchestrating riots involving approximately 200 students in Ajni.