53 days and counting - tussle between students of Film & Television Institute of India & new Director of FTII intensifies.
Over 80 students of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune (FTII) on Monday held a protest at Jantar Mantar against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the institute's Chairman on grounds of saffronisation of education. National political leaders also joined protesting students at Jantar Mantar.
Actor turned politician Raj Babbar came to express solidarity with students and alleged that the Union Government was trying to saffronise all the prestigious institutions of country. Chauhan, a BJP member and known for his role of 'Yudhishtir' in popular tele-serial "Mahabharat", has refused to step down. His appointment as FTII Chairman on June 9 triggered an indefinite strike by the students on June 12.
"It has been more than 50 days that we have been protesting. So, our purpose of coming to Delhi is that we should be heard. We had written to leaders from various political parties requesting them to intervene and urge the Government to revoke the appointments of 'unfit' people and to set up a transparent procedure for future appointments." said a student protester.
The protest had the backing of different student organisations, including National Students' Union of India (NSUI). "Government is waging an ideological war against us. FTII will not bow to any political pressure. Government must initiate a dialogue," said another student. JD(U) leader KC Tyagi also participated in the protest and backed the students. They along with CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim, Rajiv Shukla(Congress), D Raja(CPI) and DP Tripathi(NCP) released a joint statement expressing their support.
"Their protests are rightful and Gajendra Chauhan has raised grave questions regarding the logic and process followed in the selection procedure," the statement read.
Union Minister for State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said Government was open to discussions with the agitating students but was against politicising the issue. In some ways, an aspect has been coming up which suggested that despite solutions, despite the meetings, there was a section of students that was interested in continuing with the strike, he noted.
Referring to Rahul Gandhi's visit to FTII campus in Pune, he said "It is not wise to give a political institution a political angle. And if the institution holds a strike in Delhi and Congress workers participate in it, this too is not wise," Rathore said. "If the issue is to be resolved, it has to be done by the students, the administration and the Government and not by any political party," he stressed.
Rathore also said the Government had adopted a liberal approach towards the students. "In the last 50 days, no strong action has been taken considering that they are students." The students backed by several members of the film fraternity have questioned Chauhan's credentials for the FTII post. Some filmmakers have said he should be given a chance.
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