Protests are not a new thing at the State University of Performing and Visual Arts (SUPVA) here. The varsity houses North India’s only government institute for film and television, besides three other institutes for design, fine arts and architecture. However, this time, students of the film institute have declared a war on vice-chancellor Ashwini Sabharwal. They have been boycotting classes for eight days and holding demonstrations.
Alleging that they were a victim of the V-C’s dictatorship, the students have sent a 50-page ‘report’ to chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, demanding Sabhrwal’s resignation. “Two of our students met CM Khattar in Chandigarh last Wednesday. He asked us to give him a detailed report of our problems, so we compiled everything and sent him a copy on Tuesday,” a student, Lokesh Kumar, said.
Started in 2011, the first batch of the film institute completed its three-year course in July this year, as the institute didn’t have filming equipment for them to make their final project. The next batches have also been affected as they say the institute has yet not procured the required equipment. So, the institute has decided to maintain a ‘zero year’ for 2016-17 batch.
“I was supposed to pass out last year. But, I couldn’t make my final movie in sixth semester due to lack of equipment. We have no clue when we’ll pass out. Some have lost hope and left the course in-between,” Kumar said.
Initiated by the students of film and television (FTV), the protesters were joined by the students of other courses as well on Tuesday.
“There is no faculty, no equipment. How can we study?” asked Amit Sharma, another student of the FTV course. “About 90% rooms in the university are closed. Camera labs, edit studios, library, auditoriums are all empty. We have attached photographs of the rooms in our report sent to the CM,” he said.
On the other hand, V-C Sabharwal said most protesters had been detained by the university for misbehaviour and nonpayment of fees.
“They’re upset because I didn’t sanction a hefty budget for them. After consulting various experts, I could cut down over `70 lakh from the budget and save public money. These student leaders are backed by some faculty members who want to see me out,” he said. On the institute delaying the degrees of the students and observing ‘zero year’, the V-C said, “We have detained only four students’ results from batch 2011 because they haven’t paid their fee. Zero year is good as it will give us a chance to clear the backlog so that future batches don’t suffer.”