On the first day as the Chairman of FTII, actor Gajendra Chauhan hinted that, if approached, he could examine scope for withdrawal of police cases against some student-protesters filed during the 139-day old strike period last year.
Looking calm and composed in the face of the strong protest staged by Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students today ahead of his maiden visit to the campus to take charge — which led to a scuffle between police and protesters and detention of around 25 of them in the morning — he told PTI “The law will take its course.
“But I can examine scope for withdrawing cases filed against the FTII student-protesters (during 139-day strike period) if they approached me. I cannot do so until I see the files concerned.”
The TV actor and BJP member, embroiled in a prolonged face-off with the students who have questioned his stature to head the premiere institute, was responding to a query as to whether he would consider withdrawing police cases against the pupils involved in the last year’s gherao of FTII Director Prashant Pathrabe, to create a positive atmosphere on the campus.
“I will think of where I can help and examine if there is such a scope to withdraw the cases if the students approach me.”
The “Yudhishthira” of popular TV serial Mahabharat, who was greeted with slogans “Gajendra Chauhan go back”, said “what pains me most is the academic loss of the students ( because of prolonged strike)”.
He said he was willing to address grievances of the students with a “positive approach”, adding “the government has given me a responsibility and I am here to do my job.”
Chauhan said after he assumed charge, the first meeting of the FTII Society and the Governing Council was conducted in a smooth manner where many procedural decisions were taken unanimously.
Asked to react to media reports that the Centre might replace him with other candidate for chairmanship once the dust settled down, he said “It is government’s prerogative. I am ready to do any work that is assigned to me.”
When his attention was drawn to the charge made by the FTII Students Association (FSA), that he lacked stature and had no vision for the institute, Chauhan said, ” I do not believe in talking. If I am allowed to work, they will see what I can deliver.”
He also denied the Governing Council was considering any proposal to extend the FTII course duration from three to four years as demanded by the students’ body.