PUNE: On the warpath over the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as FTII chairman, students of the premier institute today threatened to launch a hunger strike for his ouster as the fast by a faculty member for "immediate resolution" of the crisis entered its third day today.
"The students will be sitting on an indefinite hunger strike if our demands are not met by the government which has put us in this situation. There is no option left," FTII Students' Association (FSA) representative Vikas Urs told journalists. The FSA, however, did not set a date to start the hunger strike.
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The strike by students of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India entered 88th day today with academic activity on the campus on a stand still since June 12 in protest against the appointment of Chauhan, a BJP member, best known for playing the role of Yudhishthir in epic TV serial Mahabharat. Meanwhile, the fast undertaken by Abhijit Das, a contractual faculty member from the Art Direction department, has entered its third day.
Referring to Das' fast, Urs said it was "extremely disturbing". "In a democracy we need to be heard on issues raised by us. No official communication has reached us from the (Information & Broadcasting) Ministry on the fast started by Das," Urs said.
He accused FTII Director Prashant Pathrabe of not "doing anything to resolve the crisis" and adopting "a manipulative mechanism" to malign the students. Pathrabe today met the fasting faculty member who is sitting under a tree in a makeshift pandal and requested him to give up his fast. Das has also been observing silence since he began his fast on Teachers Day on September 5.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has refused to entertain a plea seeking judicial intervention to end the stalemate. Reacting to the Supreme Court's order, an FSA representative said the ruling will not impact the strike.
A 3-member I&B Ministry team had on August 21 held talks with the agitating students, faculty and other stakeholders to end the protracted strike which it had described as "fruitful" and said it would submit its report to the government on August 24.
"We had very good discussions with all the stakeholders -- --staff, faculty, students and the alumni -- and we could understand the issues involved. All are satisfied with the discussions and we will submit our report to the I&B Ministry very soon by Monday," Registrar of Newspapers S M Khan, who led the team, had said after the talks. He had, however, remained non-committal on whether Chauhan will be removed.
The contents of the report are not yet in the public domain. Apart from celebrities in the entertainment industry, the agitating students have received support from political leaders including Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and former AAP leader Yogendra Yadav, who visited the campus to express solidarity with them.