NEW DELHI: The ongoing protest at the FTII, Pune, over the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the premier institute on Wednesday took a turn for the worse after the police arrested five students following a complaint lodged by its director. However, the five were later granted bail.
As the chorus against the police action emerged from various quarters, including Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and the Left leaders.
FTII director Prashant Pathrabe said he was forced to approach the police as the students had tortured and threatened him.
“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?” Pathrabe told a news conference.
However, the students alleged that the police action was excessive and an attempt to gag them.
The FTII director denied that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had pressured him. Ministry sources also said that it was the director’s decision.
Sources said the government was open to dialogue with the students and insisted that the decision to assess the work of the 2008 batch was taken during the tenure of the previous dispensation.
The current standoff between the students and the FTII director began with the assessment of the projects of the 2008 batch. The students, who were due to complete the course in 2011, opposed the assessment, saying their projects were yet to be completed.
Sources pointed that government was still refusing to go back on its decision to appoint Chauhan. The students’ strike opposing the move had entered the 70th day.
Earlier, acting on a complaint by Pathrabe, police lodged an FIR against 15 students and five were arrested under various Sections of the IPC, including 143, 147, 149, 323, 353, 506 dealing with unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation and rioting. The FTII director said the gherao had lasted for 8-10 hours on Monday.
The news of police action on protesting students was condemned by the Opposition parties. “Protesting #FTII students arrested in #midnightcrackdown. Our students are not criminals Modiji. Silence. Suspend. Arrest: ModiMantra for AcheDin,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal offered to provide the agitating students space for their classes in the capital.