FTII impasse: 30 students asked to vacate hostels for overstaying

FTII impasse: 30 students asked to vacate hostels for overstaying

FTII impasse: 30 students asked to vacate hostels for overstaying

Agitating FTII students seem to be in no mood to budge as they are now planning to scale up their protests by approaching other institutions even as the Pune-based institute today asked 30 students who have already completed their course to vacate their hostel rooms.

The 30 students include 13 who were served notices by the FTII management for overstaying.

FTII Director Prashant Pathrabe told reporters in Pune that he has taken "administrative decision" to discontinue services of 82 contract employees, mainly those giving technical support to academic film projects, since classes are not being held at the campus.

"Since classes are not being held due to the strike, there is no justification to keep contract staff engaged," he said.

According to Pathrabe, as many as 50 students of the 2008 batch are yet to complete their film projects.

"It has now been decided to do an as-is-where-is basis assessment of their projects by the faculty," he said, adding that he had consulted the FTII Dean in this regard.

The move was described by the students as an attempt to "handicap" them and exert pressure to withdraw their strike by threatening their careers.

Students at FTII have been boycotting classes since June 12, demanding removal of newly-elected chairman Gajendra Chauhan, saying that he lacks "academic credentials, vision and stature" to head the premier institute.

In Delhi, a group of students from the institution held a media interaction and said they are in touch with several institutions like Delhi University, JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia, Pondicherry University, National Institute of Design (NID) and IIMs regarding their demands.

One of the students Vikas Urs said they were getting overwhelming support and many other organisations too had similar problems.

They claimed they have done no wrong by raising questions and blamed the government for not acting responsibly and creating an atmosphere of intimidation and hostility.

They also claimed none of the top functionaries of I&B ministry have visited the institute
to understand their issues.

They reiterated that they were not only protesting Chauhan's appointment but also four other newly appointed FTII council members who did not have the stature but were there because of political affiliations. One of the members they claimed had headed a unit of BJP's student wing ABVP in Pune.

The students also claimed that police had filed cases against some students on purely baseless ground.

In Pune, the FTII Students' Association also objected to the presence of plainclothes policemen in the campus saying this was being done "despite our their strike being peaceful and without any vandalism".

The students will decide on their future course of action after their fellow mates return from Delhi, students' representative Ranjit Nair said.

In their interaction in Delhi, the students also disputed reports that there had been 39 strikes at FTII. They claimed that they had checked facts and there had only been seven strikes and six protests in the past.

In the present instance they were forced to go on a strike because of the government's stand, they claimed.

When asked about a recent meeting involving filmmakers Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Raju Hirani and some student representatives with I&B minister Arun Jaitley, they said it was an informal meeting where the alumni were trying to help find a solution.

While the students have been able to garner support from many Bollywood bigwigs in support of their demands, the ministry has stubbornly stuck to Chauhan's appointment, asking them to return to academic activity.

Meanwhile National Award-winning filmmakers and actors from the Marathi industry like Umesh Kulkarni, Abhijit Panse, Girish Kulkarni, Avinash Arun and Ravi Jadhav came out in support of the striking students and backed their demand for the removal of Chauhan.

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