Protesting students at Pune’s Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) threatened to go on hunger strike on Monday if the government doesn’t rescind actor Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment as chairperson while the Supreme Court refused to intervene in the raging row.
Over a hundred students of the prestigious film school have been demonstrating for almost three months over Chauhan’s pro-BJP leanings, saying the actor – best known for playing Yudhisthir in the TV serial Mahabharat – didn’t have the stature to head the institute.
The protests have garnered national attention and support from Congress, with students from other cities and film personalities speaking out against the government’s move.
“The students will go on an indefinite hunger strike if our demands are not met by the government. There is no option left,” FTII Students’ Association (FSA) representative Vikas Urs told journalists but didn’t set a date for the strike.
The top court declined to hear a public interest litigation filed by SC lawyer Vineet Dhanda, who alleged the Centre was not taking effective steps to bring back normalcy.
“The more disturbing part besides the strike, started by students almost 82 days ago, is the dragging of students into politics by various political parties, thereby complicating the simple issue into an unsolvable problem at present,” the PIL said.
HT reported on Monday that the NDA government was willing to keep Chauhan away from institute’s academic affairs to end the stir but hardened its stance after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s visit.
A fast undertaken by contractual faculty member Abhijit Das to resolve the crisis also entered its third day.
“In a democracy we need to be heard on issues raised by us. No official communication has reached us from the (information & broadcasting) ministry on the fast started by Das,” Urs said.
He accused FTII director Prashant Pathrabe of not doing anything to resolve the crisis and adopting “a manipulative mechanism” to malign the students.
(With Agency Inputs)