Protesting students of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) have now sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to resolve the row.
The crisis escalated on Wednesday when 5 students were arrested from the campus in a midnight swoop by the police. The students were later released on bail by a Pune court on Wednesday. Cops had entered the institute campus in the middle of the night and arrested 5 students on several charges that included rioting. This was in connection with the ‘gherao’ of the institute’s director Prashant Pathrabe.
“Prime Minister should visit FTII to resolve the issues. All students in the country are feeling threatened by the government’s insensitivity towards the problems being faced by them. The students should strike hard and strong if this continues,” representative of the FTII Students’ Association (FSA) Vikas Urs told reporters in Pune.
FTII students have been protesting against the appointment of BJP member and TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of the premier institute. The protests have been on for almost 70 days. Despite support from several film industry stalwarts, a number of politicians and prominent civil society members, the government has refused to budge from its stand.
Following the outrage over the midnight arrests, the government formed a three-member team headed by the Registrar of Newspapers in India SM Khan, and two senior I&B department officials to resolve the impasse.
“We are very curious to see with what agenda they (the officials) are coming with. We are clueless. The students’ body has not been told that the delegation is coming. We are hearing everything from the media. We are still expecting a good dialogue,” said a protesting student.
“We are open to talks. From day one we have been ready for a dialogue and finally the ministry has understood that we should sit across the table and discuss the core issues. I hope the officials come with an open mind and we are hoping a productive dialogue,” said another student.
Patharbe, who was forcefully confined in his office cabin by the students, claimed that he was “tortured, threatened, physically pushed around and subjected to disrespectful and insulting behaviour” by about 40-odd students.
The students say they ‘gheraoed’ Pathrabe to protest his decision to go ahead with the assessment of the incomplete diploma film projects of the 2008 batch.
Earlier, the I&B 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.