With their strike touching 103 days, frustrated and angry students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) have now urged the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) to meet them at the earliest to resolve the ongoing agitation over the appointment of actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of the leading institute.
The FTII students received a letter from the ministry asking them to suggest a date for the meeting to which the students have suggested September 23. The ministry proposed to the students to call off the strike for a dialogue.
“We have urged the ministry to meet us at the FTII campus to resolve the issue, in light of the gravity of the hunger strike with one student sitting for the past 13 days and the situation on the ground,” read a statement sent by the Students’ Association, FTII. The students of the Pune-based institute are now sitting on a hunger strike since September 10. According to the students, Chauhan lacks the credentials for the post of the chairman and his appointment is politically motivated.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi also visited the FTII campus in Pune and met the agitating students. He backed the protesting students. He attacked the BJP government and the RSS by saying they were “promoting mediocrity” by appointing people with mediocre reputations on institutions of national repute and also in key bureaucratic and judicial positions. He said the government was acting like a ‘bully’, forcing its own choices on the people.
Gandhi was among a dozen leaders of various political parties — including the BJP — who the students had written to asking them to support their cause to stop the government from ‘degrading various important institutions’ including the FTII. The students have abandoned all academic activities for the past 50 days demanding that the appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan and four others be revoked.
The students argue that these appointees lack the ‘cinematic vision’ and ‘excellence’ to run the premier film institute in the country that was headed in the past by veterans such as Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, U R Ananthamurthy and Saeed Mirza.