Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) campus in Pune is on boil again. Several students and the members of FTII Students Federation (FSA) staged a protest demonstration on a day the institute’s Chairman Gajendra Chauhan took charge visiting it for the first time after his appointment. The student protest led to police using force to disperse and round up a group of about 40 FTII students.
The premier film institute saw a near five month strike last year with the students demanding the removal of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan who was appointed as its Chairman last year.
Taking an official charge, Chauhan held the first meeting of FTII Society, which among others, was attended by Anagha Ghaisas, Rahul Solapurkar, Shailesh Gupta and Narendra Pathak, the members whose appointments have been objected by the FSA for being political and allegedly lacking in merit and stature for the post.
Earlier, defying the warning issued by police on Wednesday to maintain peace on the eve of the first meeting of the new FTII Society headed by Chauhan, members of FTII Students Federation (FSA) staged a protest demonstration at the institute’s gate shouting “Gajendra Chauhan go back”.
“We have been brutally targeted by police who lathi-charged us with the knowledge of FTII administration,” alleged one of the students as he was put in a police van and whisked away.
Alleging rough treatment by the police, an FSA representative Vikas Urs said, “We had withdrawn the strike but we have not given up our resistance to the wrong appointments. Police have attacked on our peaceful protesters in connivance with the FTII administration. Our protest will continue”.
On its part, the local police claimed that they were forced to detain the protesting students after they blocked the way outside campus gate.
“We had asked the students to demonstrate peacefully but we had to use force because they wanted to block the way to the institute and therefore we had to detain them. We used minimum force,” said Tushar Joshi, Deputy Commissioner of Police who was on the spot.
The student’s group FSA has been alleging that Gajendra Chauhan, who is best known for playing the character of Yudhishtira in the popular TV series Mahabharat, lacks stature to head the FTII.
Several prominent film personalities have also backed the students protest against Chauhan. At the height of protest last year they had also written to the President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention in the issue. National Award-winning film-makers Anand Patwardhan and Dibakar Banerjee had even returned their awards in protest.
Even Congress party vice-president Rahul Gandhi had paid visit to the campus expressing solidarity with the striking students.
The Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry, however, held firm and refused to accept the FSA demand for removal of FTII chairman Gajendra Chauhan.
(With inputs from the Agencies)