Mumbai: About 35 hearing-impaired youths who were staging a demonstration in Pune to press for their long-standing demands were injured in a lathicharge on Monday.
Another 170 activists working for the Maharashtra Deaf and Dumb Association were detained and later released by police.
The incident drew widespread flak from political parties even as chief minister Devendra Fadnavis directed the Pune police commissioner to submit a detailed report by Tuesday morning.
The students have decided to continue with their agitation till their issues are addressed by the government.
Over 11,000 hearing-impaired youths from across the state assembled before the Social Welfare Commissionerate in Pune near the police commissioner’s office.
The protesters, most of whom were students, were demanding right to quality education, provision of trained interpreters for deaf students and preventing fraudulent distribution of disability certificates to able-bodied individuals among others.
The situation turned violent after the protesters tried to block the road.
Pradip More, secretary of State Level Association of the Deaf, said, “When we tried to take out a rally, the police ordered a lathicharge in which several of our protesters were injured. They also detained some of the youths.”
Senior inspector Mujawar said, “We tried to tell the students that they cannot take out a rally as they did not have prior permission. One of the protesters instigated others to overpower the cops. About 2,000 of them came forward and that is when we had to resort to mild lathicharge to bring the situation under control.”
Later, Nationalist Congress Party’s Baramati Lok Sabha MP Supriya Sule met the protesters.
Terming the police action shameful, Sule said, "I condemn the lathicharge on the deaf and dumb youths in Pune. The chief minister should respond to this as he is also the home minister. He should resign if he cannot handle this."
Leader of opposition in the legislative council of Maharashtra, Dhananjay Munde also sought an explanation from the chief minister.
"The government has crossed limits of insensitivity. The police officer who ordered the lathicharge should be suspended. The chief minister should give an explanation in the assembly on Tuesday."
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray also met the protesters and criticised the state government for not addressing the issue.
"The government is least bothered about their issues. It only wants to win elections and earn money".