Gajendra Chauhan holds out olive branch to protesting FTII students

  • Yogesh Joshi, Hindustan Times, Pune
  • Updated: Jan 08, 2016 01:42 IST
As Gajendra Chauhan assumed office as FTII chairman on Thursday morning, several students stood in protest outside the campus yet again. They faced a lathi-charge and as many as 40 of them were detained. (HT Photo)

Actor-turned-politician Gajendra Chauhan on Thursday assumed charge as chairperson of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and immediately sought to make peace with students amidst fresh protests against his appointment as the head the prestigious institute.

Chauhan’s first visit to the institute after he was named last year as the chairman was marked by high drama as police cracked down on students opposed to his appointment saying he lacks credentials to head the prestigious institute.

Chauhan, however, said he can examine the possibility of taking back the police cases against the students if they approach him.

“The law will take its course. But I can examine scope for withdrawing cases filed against the FTII student-protesters (during 139-day strike period) if they approach me. I cannot do so until I see the files concerned,” Chauhan said.

Gajendra Chauhan attends first meeting of FTII society after taking charge as chairman. The FTII society has nominated R Hirani, B.P.Singh, Satish Shah, Pranjal Saikia, Narendra Pathak and Bhawna Somaiyya to the Governing Council (HT Photo)

FTII students’ association representative Vikas Urs told Hindustan Times that despite police action they will continue to protest peacefully. “Since the government has decided to be adamant on its stand, we will continue our protest in peaceful manner,” said Urs.

Critics allege that Chauhan, best known for his role as Yudhisthir in the high popular television serial Mahabharat, lacks the “stature and vision” to head the institute. Students had gone on strike for 139 days last year before calling off the agitation.

Even before Chauhan arrived, police lathi-charged protesting students—who had raised slogans like “Gajendra Chauhan go back” -- after they refused to clear the way for him. Police also detained at least 40 students outside the campus.

Sources said the institute saw official work after a long gap marked by the students’ agitation.

The meeting chaired by Chauhan nominated Bollywood director Rajkumar Hirani, producer-director BP Singh, actors Satish Shah and Pranjal Saikia besides Narendra Pathak and Bhawana Somaiyya to the governing council, a 14-member body responsible for major policy decisions.

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