FTII students protesting against the appointment of TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as the institute’s chairman said on Thursday that they were not scared of being rusticated and would continue their strike till the government responds to their demands.
The students, who have been boycotting classes since June 12, were served a notice by Film and Television Institute of India Director D J Narain on Thursday, asking them to withdraw the strike immediately or face disciplinary action leading to rustication.
“We are worried and pained by the insensitivity shown by the government and now by our director. They have not only threatened us with rustication, but have also written to our parents, who are now worried about us. We highly condemn such threats and will continue to protest, even in case of imprisonment, as we have not done anything unconstitutional. We don’t fear rustication,” FTII Students’ Association (FSA) representative Vikas Urs told mediapersons Thursday.
Urs added that they had expected a “more sensitive handling of the issue” by the government. “We have written three letters – on July 9, 14 and 15 – to the I&B Ministry, but have not received any reply. We are willing to have more talks, but the government is playing hardball with us. Alternative classes are being conducted on campus, apart from activities like painting, poetry recitation and plays. If the government still thinks that these artistic ways are of Maoist nature, they should tell us the norms of the commoners,” he said.
The students, who had earlier suggested the extension of Narain’s term, saying he had spent four years at the institute and had a better understanding of the issue, protested outside his office on Thursday.
The earlier talks between the FSA and I&B Minister Arun Jaitley held in New Delhi on July 3 to discuss the students’ demands had proved unfruitful.
The main demand of the FSA, supported by many members of the FTII alumni, is removal of Chauhan as chairman and reconstitution of the FTII Society which elects the institution’s governing council. The students claim that Chauhan, a BJP member, lacks credentials, vision and stature to head the institute, expected to shape the future prospects of the Indian cinema and film industry.
Meanwhile, the FTII Teachers’ Association has sent a letter to the Ministry requesting it to take steps to end the current impasse as it is affecting the academic activities of the course.