The students of Film and Television Institute of India, on Wednesday, ruled out any compromise on their primary demand of removal of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan’s as chairman of the prestigious institute.
Addressing a press conference after his arrest and release on bail by a local court along with four others, FTII Students’ Association (FSA) leader Vikas Urs said that conversely it should be the Information and Broadcasting ministry which needs to dilute its hard posture on the controversial appointment.
Asked about the FSA’s stand viz-a-viz the proposed visit to FTII by a high-level committee to sort out contentious issues, he said, “We are ready and willing for any dialogue but we will not compromise on our demands.”
Referring to the dramatic midnight police crackdown on the students, Urs said it amounted to “criminalisation” by the FTII administration which had lost all credibility.
“The midnight crackdown was sinister by its very design and execution. It was a step by the state to give a taste of its medicine to dissidents,” said Kislay Gonzalvez, a former student participating in the protests.
“If they think they can stop our protest by these undemocratic means, they are wrong. It will only increase our solidarity and strength,” he said.
Five students were arrested from the campus late on Tuesday night for rioting after they “gheraoed” the institute’s director Prashant Pathrabe to his chamber on Monday, allegedly abusing and using interrogation techniques to illegally confine him.
The students, however, said they were protesting against “irrational and unjustified” assessment of the incomplete diploma projects.
The government has formed a three-member team, headed by the Registrar of Newspapers in India (RNI) SM Khan, to assess the ground situation in FTII and end the impasse, with all academic activity at a standstill as the protest entered its 70th day
Controversy first erupted after the government appointed Gajendra Chauhan, best known for his role in TV adaptation of the epic Mahabharat and a BJP member, as the chairman of FTII. Students allege that he lacks the credentials and vision to head the institute.
Several celebrities and Congress vice-president Rahul gandhi reacted sharply to the row and supported the students’ stance on the issue. Many perceive the row as the Centre’s attempt to “saffronise” the educational institutes of the country.