A FINAL year student of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Manoj Kumar, has been missing from the institute campus since January 14. Kumar, who was suspended in December last year for allegedly misbehaving with his department head, was last seen leaving the institute in the early hours of Monday.
Kumar hails from Varanasi and had got married about a year ago. He was studying Art Direction and Production Design (ADPD) at the institute. On January 16, Kumar’s batchmates received frantic calls from his wife, who said she had not been able to contact him for a few days. The students contacted the administration and the next day, they approached police. One of his classmates registered a missing persons report at the Prabhat police chowki.
His batchmates said Kumar belongs to a poor family and his family members were struggling to reach Pune.
They said Kumar had been “perturbed” since December 21 last year, when institute administration had issued him a suspension notice for “misbehaving with a professor.”
Amit Tyagi, then dean (films) at FTII, had issued suspension notices to Kumar and a classmate for allegedly misbehaving with the head of the ADPD department, and for “showing no remorse for the act”.
“With immediate effect… you are being suspended from all academic activities including classes, practical training, workshops and exercises. You are not allowed to participate in any of these activities until further notice,” read a notice signed by Tyagi. On the incident, Kumar’s classmates said the two students had gone to request additional manpower for a ‘Long Take’ exercise. They said the students were not satisfied with the response given by the staff, which led to an altercation between them and the head of the department, Vikram Verma.
“After his suspension, he was very disturbed and had gone into a shell. He wouldn’t interact with anyone and was worried that he may miss the Long Take exercise, which is an important academic project,” said one of Kumar’s batchmates.
Sources said that footage from CCTV cameras showed Kumar leaving the campus via the FTII main gate in the early hours of January 14 and heading towards Nal Stop square. The footage showed that before leaving, he was sitting alone at a bench for some time.
Senior Police Inspector of Deccan police station, Bhaskar Jadhav, said police have launched an investigation. “We received a missing persons report from the student’s batchmate. It appears that his phone has been switched off for several days. We are trying to find out his last reported location from the tower location,”said Jadhav. On Saturday, policemen visited the FTII hostel and broke open Kumar’s room, but couldn’t find any clues about his whereabouts.
FTII Director Bhupendra Kainthola said, “FTII has informed the police that lately the student has not been seen on campus. His close family members have been contacted. He was suspended due to misbehaviour after a professor complained that he and another student had misbehaved with him.”