As protests rage outside, Chauhan takes charge at FTII

The students of the prestigious institution were on a strike opposing Chauhan's appointment since June 12 last year and called it off on October 28 and returned to the classes.

Written by Atikh Rashid , Raghvendra Rao | Pune/new Delhi | Updated: January 8, 2016 12:54:48 am
Police action against the FTII students who were protesting against Gajendra chauhan prior to his arrival at FTII on Thursday. Express Photo by Arul Horizon, 07-01-2016, Pune Police action against the FTII students who were protesting against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan, prior to his arrival at FTII on Thursday. (Source: Express Photo by Arul Horizon)

AMID PROTESTS by students, Gajendra Chauhan finally took charge as chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) on Thursday, over six months after his appointment was announced.

Soon after Chauhan arrived at the campus at about 11:30 am, the newly-constituted FTII Society held its first meeting to form the governing council and academic council.

Amid heavy deployment of security personnel — riot control team and State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) — many students, including girls, alleged that they were beaten up by the police “for shouting slogans”. Twenty-three students, including two girls, were detained by the police, but released in the evening. A confrontation between students and non-teaching staff also broke out over a drum procession organised by the latter to welcome Chauhan.

FTII chairman Gajendra Chauhan with FTII Director Prashant Patrbe during Chauhan's first visit at FTII on Thursday. Express Photo by Arul Horizon, 07-01-2016, Pune FTII chairman Gajendra Chauhan with FTII Director Prashant Patrbe during Chauhan’s first visit at FTII on Thursday. (Source: Express Photo by Arul Horizon)

Although the administration had removed all protest installations and graffitti from the main entrance and walls of the institute, the students put up fresh graffiti and banners deriding the government for “failing to listen to the voice of the people”.

A group of about 80 students were sitting outside the main theatre building, holding placards, when a dhol-tasha troupe, called by the staff association, started beating drums at the main entrance. The students rushed to the gate, and there was a confrontation between the two parties.

“We had no intention of disrupting the meeting or stopping anyone from entering the premises… While the police protected the other party, they beat us up, pushed us into the vans, and took us to the police station,” claimed Swapnil Ninawe, a Final Year film direction student.

Staff association members, however, said they had every right to welcome the head of the institute in the way they wanted.

Meanwhile, as reported by The Indian Express, the FTII Society appointed Brijendra Pal Singh — the maker of popular television series CID — as the chairman of FTII’s academic council and vice-chairman of the governing council. Singh was also made vice-president of the FTII Society.

What this means is that Singh, an alumnus of the institute, will be in charge of the top policy-making body on academic affairs at the institute. That will leave Chauhan to decide essentially on “administrative matters” while issues related to academics, curriculum, etc would be dealt with by Singh.

“The appointment of B P Singh as chairman of the academic council is not a compromise. It is just an adjustment the government has made to meet the concerns raised by the students and the requirements of the institute. With this move, we have accommodated the students,” said a top government functionary.

Today’s meeting was also attended by director Rajkumar Hirani, actor Satish Shah, ABVP leader Narendra Pathak, actor Rahul Solapurkar, documentary maker Anagha Ghaisas, cinematographer Shailesh Gupta, Pranjal Saikia, journalist Bhawana Somaaya, Additional Secretary & Financial Advisor Dr Subhash Sharma, National Film Archive Director Prakash Magdum and FTII Director Prashant Pathrabe.

Hirani, Shah, Saikia, Pathak and Somaaya were nominated to the governing council.

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