FTII students call off hunger strike, govt to hold fresh talks

  • Yogesh Joshi, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Sep 28, 2015 05:21 IST
Students mill around an easel installation that displays how long the strike has been on. In the background, a poster says, "We do't need a karyakarta chairman". (HT File Photo)

The ministry of Information and Broadcasting has said it will hold fresh round of dialogue with striking Film and Television Institution of India (FTII) students on Tuesday at Mumbai. Following the announcement from the ministry, three FTII students on Sunday called off their hunger strike, which they had undertaken on September 10.

In a letter to FTII students K Sanjay Murthy, joint secretary, I & B ministry, conveyed about the meeting at Film Division in Mumbai.

“The joint director has replied to our letter stating that a meeting has been fixed on Tuesday, September 29, 11 am at Film Division. Accordingly, three students on hunger strike will break their fast,” said Ranjit Nair, representative of FTII students association.

From the ministry’s side Murthy will lead the delegation during the talks while from agitators side only currents students will participate, said Nair.

Earlier, the firm stand taken by government had forced the FTII students to relent and come up with the proposal to call off the hunger strike. The students on Saturday said once the ministry of Information and Broadcasting announces dates for the talks, they will call off their relay hunger strike.

“In order to express our conviction to resolve the issues immediately through a face to face dialogue, we propose to call off the hunger strike once the government takes immediate trust building measures and confirms the date for official meeting with the representatives of the ministry,” said FTII students association in a letter addressed to K Sanjay Murthy, joint secretary, I & B ministry.

In its earlier letter to the students, government had asked them to withdraw the ongoing strike prior to resuming talks. The ministry wrote that the “talks can happen only if the students withdraw their strike.” The students however have decided to continue with 108 days old strike and instead call off relay hunger strike.

Sources said, government’s tough stand coupled with increasing fears among students about the hunger strike would fizzled out after it failed to create a pressure on the ministry were real reasons behind students relenting from their uncompromising position.

The information procured under RTI by Vijay Kumbhar revealed that initially the FTII paid the expense of two students on hunger strike after they were hospitalised at Joshi hospital. As the FTII later declined to pay bill of third hospitalised student after Kumbhar raised the issue citing that taxpayers’ money being spent even as students have undertaken hunger strike at their own will, the students decided to bear the expenses.

FTII students have been on strike since June 12 to oppose the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as institute chairman. The students have accused Chauhan for lacking “stature” and “vision”.

The striking students in their earlier letter to the ministry had stated that they are ready for talks with the government without any precondition. The students however continued their strike and relay fast demanding early resolution of the crisis.

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