Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students have intensified their agitation, and gone on an indefinite hunger strike to protest the appointment of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as the institute’s Chairman.
Three students are on an indefinite hunger strike from Thursday morning.
“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.
Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry officials too have been informed about the hunger strike, added 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”.
Now 3 students are on an indefinite fast and they demand that all existing appointments at FTII should be cancelled and a transparent process should be followed in selecting FTII body.
The stalemate between the government and the students is on for over 90 days now. A number of veterans from the film industry like Rishi Kapoor, Anupam Kher, music composer Resul Pookutty have supported the students’ cause 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.
Two days ago, filmmaker and FTII alumni Rajkumar Hirani said that he was offered to head the academic council at FTII but he declined it due to prior film commitments.
(With inputs from PTI)