FTII row nears 100 days; Students threaten bigger stir

RSTV Bureau
Mumbai: Former Chairman of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and eminent filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan with filmmakers Aruna Raje, Anand Patwardhan, Kundan Shah and others during a press conference about the ongoing crisis at FTII.  Photo - PTI

Mumbai: Former Chairman of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and eminent filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan with filmmakers Aruna Raje, Anand Patwardhan, Kundan Shah and others during a press conference about the ongoing crisis at FTII.
Photo – PTI

With no resolution in sight on the long standing row over the appointment of Chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Pune, the students of the premier institute Tuesday began a day-long symbolic hunger strike outside I&B Ministry’s office. For over three months now, the students have been agitating against the appointment of Mahabharat fame Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairman of FTII.

The agitating students also threatened to hold rallies across cities to mark 100 days of their stir. They were also joined by the students of other those universities in New Delhi. Several prominent film personalities have also thrown their weight behind the students protest. Last week, a group of ace filmmakers had even written to the President seeking his intervention in the issue.

Early on Tuesday morning, the students from FTII, Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Jamia Millia Islamia heightened their protest, sitting outside Shastri Bhavan, not far from the Parliament House. The students were, however, allegedly forcefully removed by the police who claimed that they had not taken prior permission for the demonstration. According to a senior police official 12 students were detained.

“They had no prior permission to stage any sort of demonstration. The detention has been done considering law and order issues,” a senior police officer briefed the press.

The agitating students of the premier film-making institute once again blamed the Central government of adopting silence over the issue.

“We are on hunger strike. Some have already been hospitalised but there has been no response from government which shows they do not care for students at all,” said Sakshi Gulati, an FTII student.

“Arun Jaitley can tweet about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to (Mark) Zuckerberg, but he cannot talk on our issue,” the student added in a reference to Union Information and Broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley, whose ministry looks after the administrative matters of the FTII.

FILE: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in his meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee over the issue of FTII chairman row on August 13, 2015.  Photo - PTI

FILE: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in his meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee over the issue of FTII chairman row on August 13, 2015.
Photo – PTI

The issue assumed larger proportions after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi paid a visit at the FTII campus in Pune expressing his solidarity with the protesting students. Mr Gandhi had even took up the matter with President Pranab Mukherjee extending the representation by the striking students of the FTII.

Asked about whether the issue is being politicised the group of students accused the government of “saffronising” the institute.

“It is the government which is saffronising FTII and other institutes. We have appealed all political parties to extend their support to our cause,” claimed another FTII student Kislay adding that the students will hold a similar strike in Mumbai on Wednesday and in Patiala on 18th of this month.

“On 19th, when the agitation will enter its 100th day, nationwide protests will be held. In Delhi, the protesting students will carry out a rally from Mandi house till Jantar Mantar,” he said.

“We have also invited people from the artistic community in Delhi who will also participate in the rally on 19th,” Kislay added.

The strike by students of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India entered 96th day on Tuesday with academic activity on the campus on a stand still since June 12 in protest against the appointment of Chauhan, a BJP member, best known for playing the role of Yudhishthir in epic TV serial Mahabharat.

(With inputs from the PTI)