With striking students refusing to climb down from their “adamant” stand, the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) is contemplating strong action which includes rusticating students or even shutting down the institute temporarily.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has also conveyed to the students through the FTII administration that since they are “inflexible” on their stand vis-a-vis removing the institute’s society chairman and other appointees, there would be no dialogue with them.
“Since the students are adamant on their stand, it doesn’t seem they will end their strike any time soon. If they don’t, the government would be left with no choice but to take strong action like rusticating the students or shutting down the institute temporarily,” the newly appointed director of the institute, Prashant Pathrabe, told The Indian Express on Tuesday. The strong action, he said, was being contemplated at the government level as “patience is indeed running thin…”
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But before resorting to the drastic measure, the FTII administration has decided to make “all efforts” to convince the students to end their agitation. Pathrabe said they still had not exhausted all the options. “I have just taken over and already held discussions with the students. I would continue to hold a few more discussions with the students to end the strike,” he said.
“From the initial discussions, I have gathered that the students are inflexible and adamant on their stand. I had thought once I took over, the students would climb down a bit at least. But I am dejected they haven’t. They continue to stick to their stand despite my appeal to them to call of their strike,” Pathrabe said.
Asked whether the students have political motive as alleged by some, Pathrabe answered in the negative. “The students have a fairly intellectual argument. They have their grievances, but there certainly does not seem to be any political hand behind their agitation,” he said.
Pathrabe said the students had nothing against him and were ready to hold discussions with him. “Therefore, I will continue to use my good offices to bring the students around. I hope the students will introspect and call off their agitation.”
While the I & B Ministry is accusing striking students of being inflexible, the students in turn say the ministry is refusing to justify its action of making political appointments at the FTII. “How does it justify the appointments ? What is the rationale behind making the appointments ? The ministry has refused to respond to these posers and and hold discussions on the principal demand raised by us. We will be flexible, but let them first come forth on our first demand. Therefore, it is the ministry which should adopt a flexible stand, and not the students,” said Ranjit Nair, a student representative.
Asked as to how the students will react to strong actions from the government, Nair said, “If the government wants to rusticate students, it will have to rusticate all the 200 students who are on strike. It will not be easy for the government to do so.”
As for the warning to shut down the institute temporarily, he said the students would deliberate on it and would then decide their future course of action accordingly.