As the strike by students at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) completes 100 days on Saturday, they have relented and agreed to talks with the government without any conditions.
The current protest is one of the longest in the FTII’s 50 years of history. The institute has so far seen 40 agitations; the longest one in 1992 when students resisted changes in syllabus.
Responding to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s letter dated September 16, the FTII Students Association president Harishankar Nachimuthu wrote to the joint secretary in the ministry saying, “We respect your expectation of not having any preconditions towards the prospective dialogue, but we would like to sincerely request the same from your side as well.”
They were waiting for the government to decide the date and venue for next round of dialogue, said Ranjit Nair, representative of the FTII Students Association.
In Wednesday’s letter addressed to Nachimuthu, the joint secretary, Information and Broadcasting Ministry, K Sanjay Murthy said, “In case you are keen to end the stalemate and resume academics, you are welcome to discuss the issues with the ministry without preconditions.
Earlier on July 31, the students in an email addressed to FTII director Prashant Pathrabe set seven conditions including appointment of co-chairman having powers of chairman while Gajendra Chauhan would function as an interim titular head. The students also demanded that a mentor be appointed and three out of five contentious members of the FTII society be replaced, something the government termed “disappointing”.
The HT has copy of an email procured under RTI by activist Vijay Kumbhar.
The students followed up with another letter on September 8 in which they listed eight issues including previous one in addition to withdrawing police cases against students. Terming the communication similar in “tone and tenor” to July 31, Murthy in his Wednesday’s letter wrote: “It was a disappointment from government’s point of view.”
FTII students have been on strike since June 12 to oppose the appointment of Chauhan as institute chairman. The students said Chauhan lacked “stature” and “vision”.