The Pune police have named 18 more students, including four girls, of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in the case of alleged “forcible confinement, harassment and torture” of institute director Prashant Pathrabe on August 16 during their protest against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of FTII’s Governing Council .
The total number of students booked in the case is now 34, including six girl students.
The complaint filed by Pathrabe on the next day of his alleged confinement stated that in a meeting called for discussing the issue of assessment of diploma film projects of the 2008 batch, about 50 students started shouting at him and demanded that he change the decision to carry out the assessment. He alleged that when he tried to leave the office at the end of the day, the students forcibly stopped him. They mishandled him, threatened him and also mentally harassed him by saying he was incompetent to be on the post of the FTII director.
Senior Inspector Pravin Chougule of Deccan Police Station said, “We have served notices to 18 students who were not named in the original FIR. All these accused students, which include 16 who are out on bail, will have to remain present in the Shivajiangar District Court on Monday when the investigating officer will submit the chargesheet against them.”
Students called this an “arm-twisting exercise” and alleged that the institute administration was hand-in-glove with the police. “It’s been nearly seven months since the incident and the police have now identified 18 more students and have added them to the list of the already accused students. All of this happens with the proactive participation from the FTII administration and support from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B),” said a note issued by Harishankar Nachimuthu, president of FTII student’s body.
Vikas Urs, a final-year cinematography student said, “This is coming at a time when the screenplay batch of 2013 and film batch of 2008 are finishing their course and would be leaving the campus. The 12 students who are out on anticipatory bail have been ordered by the court not to leave Pune jurisdiction. But they would be finishing the course after which they would require a place to live. It’s extremely disheartening and shameful to see the FTII administration arm-twisting its students on orders from their superiors, who happen to be the elected representatives of the citizens.”
The diploma films of 2008 batch whose “as is where is” assessment led to the incident of confinement are now almost finished. Of the six projects which were incomplete in August 2015 when the controversial decision was taken, four are now complete while two projects which are currently at the film lab in Mumbai and are expected to be screened at the institute next week – an exercise that marks the end of the academic activity at the institute for the students involved.
‘Administration going back on promise to drop the case’
Some of the students have said that the institute administration and senior official of the I&B Ministry who had negotiated with student representatives during the strike period had promised them that the cases against the students would be dropped as soon as the strike was withdrawn.
The attitude, they claim, suddenly changed after January 7 after they staged a protest when Chouhan visited the institute for the first time since his appointment. “Even I&B Secretary Sunil Arora, who held two meetings with us in Mumbai, had promised that the case would be dropped. However, after we protested on January 7, the administration has refused to talk about the promise,” said Ajayan Adat, one of the students who has also been booked in the case.