More than ten years after 15 activists of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) were booked for attacking an examination centre in Mulund, a magistrate’s court acquitted them for “lack of evidence”.
The prosecution had claimed that the men entered the centre with flags and sat outside the exam halls on the second floor demanding that north Indian candidates should not be allowed to take the exam. Witnesses, including security guards at the centre, were examined. The guards told the court that 25 to 30 people had entered the hall on the day of the exam. But none of them could identify the accused.
“The prosecution has not examined any other witnesses from the exam centre. Apart from the allegations made in the FIR, the prosecution could not prove the case against the accused. No documentary evidence was submitted to even prove that an examination was on at the centre,” the court said while acquitting all the accused. It added that the guards were not even able to name the accused booked by the police.
On May 10, 2008, an exam was held at the T-ward office (Bhandup) of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for a skill test for the post of income tax assistant. At the centre, accused activists of MNS had allegedly entered the examination halls forcefully to register their protests claiming that Marathi candidates were inadequately represented in the exam. The protests were allegedly part of a campaign planned to attack north Indians considered “outsiders” appearing for various exams across the state.
The accused were booked under sections pertaining to house-trespass, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty and unlawful assembly. In 2008, more than 200 candidates from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa had assembled for the exam, which was to begin at 9 am. But fifteen minutes before the exam, the accused had allegedly entered the centre in protest. The protesters also asked the witnesses to leave the centre, resulting in a scuffle.