Five FTII students held for rioting

I&B team to resolve imbroglio.

Pune/New Delhi : Amid mounting tensions on the FTII campus, five students were arrested in a midnight swoop for rioting after they confined the premier institute’s director to his chamber, prompting the government to form a team of senior I&B department officials to resolve the 70-day-old crisis. The arrested students were later enlarged on bail by a Pune court.

The arrest of the students for vandalising the office of institute’s director Prashant Pathrabe drew sharp response from Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, besides the film fraternity.

“Protesting #FTII students arrested in #midnightcrackdown. Our students are not criminals Modiji. Silence. Suspend. Arrest: ModiMantra for AcheDin,” Rahul said in a tweet.

Kejriwal expressed ‘shock’ over the police action and alleged the institution was being ‘systemically destroyed’ as he offered space to the students in Delhi to carry out their academic activity.

“My offer to FTII students , Delhi govt can provide u temp space in Del. Run ur classes here till central govt agrees. If finally, central govt doesn’t agree, we’ll convert this place into full fledged institute n students can continue studying here only,” the Chief Minister said in a series of tweets. As the outrage over the midnight crackdown on the students mounted, the government constituted a three-member team headed by the Registrar of Newspapers for India S M Khan to assess the ground situation at the Film and Television Institute of India.

“The team headed by Khan and comprising two more I&B Ministry officials will visit Pune on Thursday and give its report on the situation there,” official sources said.

Patharbe, who claimed he was still in a state of “mental shock” after Monday’s incident, trashed accusations that he was forced to file a complaint under pressure from Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

“FIRs have been filed against 15 students out of which five have been arrested,” DCP T Tushar Doshi told PTI. Those arrested included the FTII Students’ Association (FSA) representative Vikas Urs. They have been booked under various sections of IPC relating to unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation and rioting for vandalising Patharbe’s office.

There were conflicting versions about the incident, with Pathrabe claiming the students vandalised his office while a student said he had a video that purportedly show-ed a policeman in plainclothes breaking the window panes of the director’s office.

Patharbe said he was “tortured, threatened, physically pushed around and subjected to disrespectful and insulting behaviour” by about 40 odd students. The students were reportedly agitated over Pathrabe’s decision to go ahead with the assessment of the incomplete diploma film projects of the 2008 batch.

The students are on the warpath with Modi government, demanding revocation of the appointment of BJP member and TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairman of the prestigious institute on the ground that he does not have the credentials.

Will not compromise:FSA

The striking students of FTII today ruled out any compromise on their main demand of removal of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan’s as chairman of the institute. Addressing a press conference FTII Students’ Association (FSA) leader Vikas Urs said, “we are ready and willing for any dialogue but we will not compromise on our demands.” Referring to the dramatic midnight police crackdown on the students, Urs said it amounted to “criminalisation” by the FTII administration which had lost all credibility.

Parents seek PM intervention

With no solution in sight to the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) impasse, parents of the agitating students sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention for an early resolution to the strike which entered its 70th day.  Vishnu Biswas, father of 3rd year student Raju Biswas, who is one of those arrested, shared his agony. He said he was undergoing a phase of ‘depression’ because of the events and hoped that government would come up with a solution after holding discussions with the students. Another parent A Thothathri Raman appealed to Modi to step in to resolve the issue.

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