Midnight crackdown: Five FTII students arrested for 'rioting'

  • Yogesh Joshi, Hindustan Times, Pune
  • Updated: Aug 19, 2015 08:26 IST

Police in Pune arrested 5 students of the premier Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) late on Tuesday, after they were charged with unlawful assembly, rioting, wrongful restraint and criminal intimidation.

The police took 15 students to the police station out of which five were formally arrested. "An FIR has been filed against all those who have been brought here. We have arrested five of them," deputy police commissioner Tushar Doshi told Hindustan Times.

Agitating students "gheraoed" the institute's director Prashant Pathrabe on Monday to protest against "irrational and unjustified" assessment of some incomplete diploma projects.

On Tuesday, police officials arrived at FTII around midnight and picked up the students from the institute campus and hostel. An FIR was lodged against them based on a complaint filed by Pathrabe.

While the FIR mentions three female students of FTII, the police however did not arrest them given the Supreme Court ruling which bars police from arresting a woman after dusk. To protest against the late night action by police, large number of students gathered on the campus and shouted slogans. They then gathered outside Deccan police station where others were brought in.

During the Monday night protest, students refused to leave unless Pathrabe gave a "rational" explanation for the ongoing assessment of incomplete films made by the 2008 batch, and police had to intervene to release him from the office cabin.

Read | FTII director held captive 'safe' after police disperses students

The FTII Students' Association (FSA) alleged that the assessment was politically motivated and aimed at getting rid of about 50 students belonging to the 2008 batch on the grounds of "overstaying" at the institute due to incomplete projects.

Sources said the FTII administration was concerned over the fact that several students of the 2008 batch had yet to graduate. Officials said the projects of the 2008 batch were assessed as per norms.

There were also concerns over fresh batches being affected because of the overstay by previous batches. Officials said that while there had been zero-admission years, they had not served the purpose towards resolving problems at FTII.

Meanwhile, there are reports that officials from the ministry of information and broadcasting were likely to visit the campus in the next few days to take a stock of the situation that has arisen due to the ongoing strike by students. After failure of the talks held with the students' body in Delhi on July 3, ministry officials have made it clear that no further dialogue will be held on students' demands until they go back to classes, closed since June 12.

Academic activity in FTII continued to be at a standstill as the agitating students remained firm on their demand for the removal of Gajendra Chauhan from its chairmanship. They allege Chauhan lacks credentials and vision to head the institute. Several Bollywood celebrities too joined the list of people arguing that Chauhan does not merit the post of chairman of the prestigious film institute.

A major controversy erupted after Chauhan, best known for his act as Yudhisthir in TV show Mahabharat, was selected as the chairman of the FTII society. Chauhan had officially joined the BJP recently and was a special invitee for the saffron party's national executive council.

(With inputs from agency)


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