Social media influencer Vikas Fhatak (41), alias ‘Hindustani Bhau’, was Tuesday added as an accused in one of the two First Information Reports (FIR) filed by the Nagpur police against students who rioted and damaged a private bus in the Ajni area of the city on Monday, according to officials.
This comes hours after his arrest by the Dharavi police over his role in Monday’s protests in Dharavi. He was produced before the court and remanded in police custody till February 4.
Amitesh Kumar, Nagpur city Police Commissioner confirmed the development to The Indian Express. “During investigations, we ascertained that Fhatak too is involved and he has been added as an accused,” said Inspector Mahindra Ambore, who holds additional charge as Senior Inspector at Ajni station.
The students were protesting against the government’s decision to conduct offline board exams for classes 10 and 12.
An FIR was registered under IPC sections 143, 147, 149 for unlawful assembly and rioting and 188, 269, 270 of IPC, 51 (b) of Disaster Management Act, section 135 of the Maharashtra Police Act for violating Covid-19 guidelines and section 3 (mischief causing damage) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act 1984. Another FIR was registered for unlawful assembly and violating Covid guidelines.
Earlier in the day, Dharavi police arrested Fhatak in connection with his role in orchestrating the riots in Dharavi where over 1,000 students, mostly minors, choked the roads and took to violence on Monday demanding the cancellation of the offline board exams in view of the pandemic. Fhatak’s aide Ikrar Khan (25) was also arrested.
A meeting has been called by state School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad to discuss the topic with officials and students on Tuesday.
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 protests at Jalgaon and Aurangabad remained peaceful, in Mumbai and Nagpur, local police had to resort to lathi-charge.
Divisional Assistant Commissioner of Police, Suresh Jadhav, told The Indian Express, “Only some students in the crowd acted like goons and took to violence. They broke the glasses of a few private vehicles and one police van.”