Panic gripped Pune’s Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) on Saturday after a parcel, allegedly containing explosives, was found on the campus. A letter with the parcel warned JNU students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar to stop his activities.
Kumar shot to fame after his arrest on sedition charges for being part of a February 9 event in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) marking the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
A critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, Kumar has held meetings in several states, including Bihar and Maharashtra, since his release on bail in March. He had planned to address FTII students in Pune last month. However, police denied him permission on security grounds.
The parcel, found by an FTII staff member late in the evening, contained some kind of a detonator and powder. A bomb disposal squad was called in immediately and police conducted an inspection of the entire premises.
Students of the Pune-based film school, who were supported by their JNU counterparts in a protest against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the premier film institute’s chairman, have expressed solidarity with Kumar and accused the government of harassing and threatening those who dare to oppose its ideology.
FTII, situated in a busy residential area, has been in the limelight for months after students went on a protest demanding the removal of Chauhan. Agitating students have accused Chauhan, a leader of the ruling BJP, of lacking “stature and vision” to head the institute. According to them, Chauhan was picked because of his political leanings.
FTII Students Association expressed surprise over the parcel incident. It said students had received threats in the past but sending explosives was “an indication of criminal, intolerant and insensitive attitude of people, who want to stop dissenting voice”.
The parcel and the letter addressed to Kumar were reportedly sent by courier. Police have registered a case against unidentified persons in this connection.
Recently, Kumar was offloaded from a Pune-bound Jet Airlines flight at Mumbai airport after a fight with a co-passenger, whom he accused of trying to strangle him.