An Information and Broadcasting Ministry panel has blamed the agitating students and the faculty of FTII for the prevailing situation at the campus here, as it defended the institute’s controversial decision to call police in the campus after the gherao of its director.
The three-member committee headed by S M Khan, who is Registrar of Newspapers for India, said this in a report submitted to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry after visiting the campus of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India(FTII) a month ago after the gherao episode that led to a midnight crackdown by police in which five students were arrested.
The report accessed by an RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar here said, “the incidents leading to lodging of FIR by director and subsequent arrests are unfortunate.
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However, if one views the video recordings of these incidents, one can understand the amount of mental trauma the director (Pathrabe) would have gone through. Hence, the director was well within his right to call the police and lodge FIRs. Although everyone demanded withdrawal of FIRs the matter at present is before the court of law and the law will take its own course.”
FTII Director Prashant Pathrabe had alleged “mental torture” by the striking students who allegedly confined him to his office cabin for several hours on August 18 asking him to rescind his decision ordering assessment of incomplete film projects of the 2008 batch students on “as is where is basis” to clear the backlog.
Coming as it did when the students’ strike demanding removal of actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan from the chairmanship of the institute was on, the gherao incident and subsequent arrests of about 11 students further fuelled the campus unrest, still being addressed by the ministry through talks with the FTII Students’ Association (FSA).
The committee, besides Khan, comprised two other members –SS Naganathan, Under Secretary (Films) and Anshu Sinha, Director (Films) of the I and B Ministry.
On the contentious issue of assessment of 2008 batch’s incomplete film projects, the committee stated, “although the students as well as the faculty blame various reasons for the delay for completion of 2008 batch the records available clearly indicate there was no dearth of facilities for completion of the project, mainly delayed due to the fact that students were not ready with the scripts.”
Slamming the FTII faculty, the report said, “the academic faculty keeps changing its stand. In fact the unfortunate incidents that led to the lodging of FIRs were due to constant shifting of stand by the faculty.”
Meanwhile, the over 110 day strike by the students who have been boycotting classes since June 12, continued even as the ministry officials and FSA representatives prepared for one more round of talks in Mumbai on October 7 to resolve the core issue raised by the agitating students –cancellation of the alleged political appointments on the FTII governing body including that of the chairman Chauhan.
The panel said the HoDs had unanimously agreed on August 11, 2015 with the proposal to assess the 2008 projects on “as is where is” basis but changed its stand during interaction with the committee saying “this is not an opportune time to do the assessment”.
The fact finding committee observed that the majority of contract/external faculty who happen to be alumni of the institute who frequently visit and stay in the campus, fuel the students without any responsibility towards orderly conduct of courses and passing out of students.
“The contract faculty should restrict themselves to academic activities rather than indulging in activities which are not academic in nature and are beyond their scope of work,” it said.
The report also favoured setting up of an “Academic Discipline Committee” consisting of the director and faculty to monitor implementation of schedules of different assignments by students and take “appropriate measures” to ensure strict academic discipline at the FTII.