Bouncers deployed at FTII campus in Pune

RSTV Bureau
Pune: SM Khan, Director General, Registrar of Newspapers for India addressing media after visiting FTII in Pune on Friday.  Photo - PTI

Pune: SM Khan, Director General, Registrar of Newspapers for India addressing media after visiting FTII in Pune on Friday.
Photo – PTI

Bouncers have been deployed at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) campus in Pune after the institute’s director Prashant Pathrabe was ‘gheraoed’ by striking students early this week. The administration of the institute has said that the bouncers were for security reasons.

Pathrabe, who faced a lot of flak for deploying bouncers in the premier institute, has justified the “administrative decision” saying it was necessary in view of the prevailing “insecure” atmosphere in the campus.

“I had not asked for extra security but it is true that I felt extremely insecure following my 11-hour ordeal during the gherao by the students in office cabin on Monday evening. The FTII administration took the decision on the extra security following the incident,” Pathrabe told PTI.

Pathrabe faced a lot of flak from the striking students and faculty members who said that the additional security conveyed a wrong impression of the situation at the institute and projected the students as “criminals or terrorists”.

FTII students have been protesting against the appointment of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of the institute. The students feel that Chauhan is not qualified enough to head the premier film-making institute. They want Chauhan’s appointment to be revoked.

Meanwhile a 3-member government appointed team visited the campus on Friday to assess the situation and submit a report to the Centre.

The team led by Registrar of Newspapers, SM Khan, also comprises of two senior I&B officials. The team had a series of discussions with all the stake holders to find a solution to the ongoing stalemate.

At the end of the talks, SM Khan told reporters that there was no need for an increase in security in the campus. According to him, the deployment of bouncers was unnecessary. The team is likely to submit its report to the I&B Ministry in the next two days.

Student representatives expressed “happiness” over the positive approach of Ministry officials. They said they were hopeful of an early resolution of their demands, which includes removal of Chauhan. They also said that they were determined to continue their strike till all issues are addressed.

Pathrabe, however, continued to maintain that he was “tortured” by the students during the gherao. He also alleged that the footage being shown in the media was a “selective leak” to camouflage the truth.

“The video footage being shown in the media is only from the initial stage of the 11-hour gherao and does not show my worsening ordeal during the confinement,” Pathrabe explained.

Earlier this week, Patharbe was forcefully confined in his office cabin by the students. He claimed that he was “tortured, threatened, physically pushed around and subjected to disrespectful and insulting behaviour” by about 40-odd students. The students were reportedly agitated over Pathrabe’s decision to go ahead with the assessment of the incomplete diploma film projects of the 2008 batch.

Following the ‘gherao’, Pune police arrested 5 protesting students from the campus in a midnight swoop. The Centre and the police faced a lot of criticism from both Bollywood veterans and senior politicians for their action.

The stalemate is on for the past 72 days and both sides have refused to relent. Earlier, the Information and Broadcasting ministry had refused to hold further dialogue with the agitating students after the July 3 talks in Delhi failed. The students’ demand of Chauhan’s removal was given a cold shoulder by the officials in Delhi. The students, who have been boycotting classes since June, were asked to return.

(With inputs from PTI)