As the indefinite strike by the students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) entered its fifth day on Tuesday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) invited student representatives for a dialogue over the issues raised by them, including the controversial appointment of TV actor and BJP leader Gajendra Chauhan as president of the FTII society.
The invite has come as a response to a formal letter sent by the FTII students’ body to the I&B Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday in which they had demanded that Chauhan be replaced with a suitable person with “seminal understanding of cinema asthetics or arts”.
The students, on the other hand, said they would continue their agitation – although they hinted it could be mellowed down – till the appointment of Chauhan was nullified and the entire society reconstituted. Students’ representatives said that they would convey their response to the ministry after holding deliberations with students in a meeting to be held on Wednesday.
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At a press conference held at the campus on Tuesday, FTII director D J Narain read out a letter addressed to student body president Harishankar Nachimuthu and sent by the I&B Ministry, followed by a personal request to students to allow normal functioning of the institute.
“The ministry has conveyed that it is willing to discuss all relevant issues with any person of their choice. Now, the students will have to go and discuss the issues they are concerned about. The ministry has requested students to restore normalcy so that the academic work is not compromised. The ministry has also said that it’s their right to make the appointments (to the governing council) but they are open to a discussion with students,” said Narain.
Students welcomed the ministry’s move but said their agitation would continue till Chauhan’s appointment is revoked and the FTII society reconstituted.
“We have got the letter from the I&B Ministry which us invited student representatives for a dialogue. They have not given us any date or time for this meeting though. We plan to hold a meeting on Wednesday of the general body of the students association decide on representatives who will travel to Delhi for the talks and the future course of the action. There’s no doubt in our mind that till the FTII society is reconstituted, we will continue this agitation,” said Rakesh Shukla, a final-year (direction) student.
Meanwhile, the GRAFTII, an association of alumni of the institute, will meet at the institute campus on Thursday to “discuss and guide” the students on the issue.