Students appearing for nine different exam papers of the University of Mumbai were left stranded for hours on Wednesday as the Board of Examinations and Evaluation took time to decide whether or not to reschedule the exams in the wake of the ongoing protest by Dalit groups that had called for a Maharashtra bandh on Wednesday.
Vinita Poojari, a resident of Nallasopara, had to appear for her second-year law exam at Malad’s Kandivali Education Society Law College by 3 pm Wednesday. She went to the railway station on Wednesday morning to catch a local train, only to find that the railway tracks were blocked.
“The tracks were blocked due to the protest. Since trains were shut, I decided to go home, but even the roads were blocked by the protesters,” she said. Her father took several diversions to reach her at the station and bring her home. “We tried for hours to reach out to the university. Since there is a threat to life, I knew it was not possible to reach Malad from Nallasopara,” she said.
Similarly, Shrushti Gohel, a Kandivali resident, waited at a railway station till 2.45 pm for train operations to become smooth. The second-year law student had to reach Vile Parle’s Jitendra College for her exam. “The rain had come to a standstill at Kandivali station for more than half an hour. We were also not sure whether we will get transportation from Vile Parle station. I had to return home,” Gohel said.
An official spokesperson for the University of Mumbai said they were able to conduct exams for students between 11 am to 2 pm for four different courses.
In the afternoon, between 3 pm to 6 pm, the university was scheduled to conduct nine different exams for courses including LLB, MCA, B.Sc, M.Com and Masters in Education. At least 35,000 students were slated to appear for these exams on Wednesday.
By noon, the university issued a notification allowing students appearing for the afternoon exams to reach the exam centre late. Latika Rajput, a law student, said it was impossible to reach the exam centre with train services and roads blocked.
By afternoon, the Board of Examinations and Evaluation issued a notification allowing students to reschedule exams if they were unable to reach exam centres. Exams, however, were held for those who could make it to the centres.
Mumbai University officials said they did not anticipate that the bandh could lead to major road and rail blocks in parts of the city. “The situation worsened after 11 am. Till then, we did not know the gravity of the situation,” a spokesperson said.
Kandivali-based Gohel said the notification from the university came very late. “Most of us were panicking at home. Exams were also held between 11 am to 2 pm. The university should have gauged the situation by then,” she said. Vasai resident Ridhi Mehta said she started at 12.30 pm for Malad by train for her 3 pm exam at the law college. At Malad station, in the absence of autos and due to road blocks, she had to walk for 45 minutes to reach her exam centre.