The students of the Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), who have been protesting for the past 107 days over appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the institute’s chairman, on Saturday announced that they were willing to call off the hunger strike once the government announces dates for talks.
The firm stand taken by government has forced the FTII students to relent and come up with the proposal to call off the 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. The striking students in their earlier letter to the ministry had stated that they are ready for talks with the government without any precondition.
Earlier in its letter to the students, the government had asked them to withdraw the ongoing strike prior to resuming talks. In a letter written on Thursday, the ministry had said that “talks can happen only if the students withdraw their strike.” The students however have decided to continue their strike but have agreed to call off hunger strike once the dates for talks are announced.
Sources said that the government’s tough stand coupled with increasing fear among students about the hunger strike being fizzled out after it failed to create a pressure on the ministry were the 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 in Pune. The FTII students decided to bear the expenses of the hospitalised students when the FTII declined to pay the bill of a student hospitalised. Kumbhar had raised the issue citing that taxpayers’ money was being spent even as students have undertaken hunger strike at their own will.
FTII students have been on strike since June 12 to oppose the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of the institute. The students had accused Chauhan for lacking “stature” and “vision”.