The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) row has once again reached the President. On Thursday, 190 acclaimed personalities from the film fraternity signed a memorandum demanding the removal of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairman of FTII. The memorandum seeking President’s intervention has been sent.
This came as a big boost to the striking students of FTII who have intensified their agitation by going on an indefinite hunger strike.
The memorandum would also be sent to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, FTII alumni Adoor Gopalakrishnan told reporters in a press conference in Mumbai.
“It is important that the chairman of the governing body (of FTII) is governed by eminent people from different fields like theatre, painting, arts, etc. The current chairman cannot claim to govern the institute because he does not even understand his roles,” said Gopalakrishnan.
“They (Govt), it seems, want to make criminals out of students. Students are being called to police stations at odd hours. This is only to intimidate and demoralise them,” he added.
The memorandum has been signed by 190 eminent personalities including renowned documentary maker Anand Patwardhan and actress Vidya Balan, who is also a National Award winner.
According to Patwardhan the government was making attempts to saffronise educational institutions.
On the other hand, Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore criticized students’ “hardline” stand.
“Unfortunately the students have taken an extremely hardline stand. We are ready to resolve all issues. We have had multiple talks with them,” Rathore told reporters in Panaji.
On Thursday morning, three students of FTII went on an indefinite hunger strike.
“Our fast is indefinite. The three students – Hiral Savad, Alol Arora and Himanshu Shekhar — if they are hospitalised, will be replaced by another batch of protesters,” FTII Students’ Association (FSA) representative Ranjit Nair told PTI.
Government appointed Chauhan as the chairman of FTII in June 2015 and since then the students have been demanding his removal. The students feel that Chauhan is not qualified enough for the role.
In a letter to the FTII administration, FSA said that while they are seeking “immediate resolution of the present crisis”, the students had no option but to go on a hunger- strike because of the government’s “apathy” to the issues raised by them.
“We have informed police and medical personnel about the hunger strike after receiving a letter by the students to that effect,” said FTII director Prashant Pathrabe.
Earlier this week, faculty member Abhijit Das was also on a hunger strike. Das broke his fast on the request of the students and colleagues after his sugar level “dropped dangerously”.
The stalemate between the government and the students is on for 92 days now but the government has refused to relent.
On July 3, FSA representatives held a round of talks with I&B minister Arun Jaitley and they turned out to be futile. After that, the students sought another round of dialogue to break the impasse.