PUNE: The crisis at the strike hit-FTII escalated with five students being arrested in an unprecedented midnight crackdown by the police at the campus and charged with rioting over the gherao of director Prashant Pathrabe who claimed today that he was tortured.
The arrested students were later granted bail by a local court.
The police action on a complaint by Pathrabe was condemned by Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the film fraternity with the Congress Vice President telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the arrested students are not criminals who needed to be caught in a midnight crackdown.
"Protesting #FTII students arrested in #midnightcrackdown.
Our students are not criminals Modiji. Silence. Suspend.
Arrest: ModiMantra for AcheDin," Rahul said in a tweet.
Stating that he was still in a state of "mental shock", Pathrabe rejected suggestions he was forced to file the police complaint under pressure from the I&B ministry, as the arrests added to the tense showdown between the government and the students whose strike entered the 70th day today.
The students are demanding revocation of the appointment of BJP member and TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairman of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) on the ground that he does not have the credentials.
"FIRs have been filed against 15 students out of which five have been arrested," DCP T Tushar Doshi told PTI. The arrested people included the FTII Students' Association (FSA) representative Vikas Urs.
The students have been charged with vandalising the director's office and damaging glass panes, computer and table amid conflicting versions as to to who was responsible for the vandalism.
The accused students were charged under various sections of IPC including 143, 147, 149, 323, 353, 506 etc. dealing with offences some of them non-bailable related to unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation and rioting.
Pathrabe claimed the students vandalised furniture in his office while a student said he had a video that purportedly showed a policeman in plainclothes breaking the glass of the director's office.
"I really wonder by what yardstick you can call such people 'students'. They wanted to enact a drama, it was all pre planned," Pathrabe, who looking visibly disturbed, told a press conference held in the campus.
He said the students "called me incapable and inefficient" and tried to break him down but "I did not".
Describing the gherao, which he said lasted for 8-10 hours on Monday evening, as a "pre-planned drama" by the students, the director alleged that it was demonstrative of violence as the students vandalised furniture in the office. "Their claim of carrying on a peaceful agitation is just a facade."
"I was tortured, threatened, physically pushed around and subjected to disrespectful and insulting behaviour by about 40 odd students, who came to my office cabin and used cruel interrogation asking repeatedly why I ordered assessment of the incomplete film projects of the 2008 batch," he said.
The students had gheraoed Pathrabe challenging his decision to go ahead with the assessment of the incomplete diploma film projects of the 2008 batch.
Expressing "shock" over the police action, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal offered to provide space to agitating students for their classes in the capital.