Standoff between police, FTII students amid protest

Pune: Police used force to disperse and round up a group of about 40 FTII students protesting here against TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan who is expected to take charge as the institute’s Chairman today.

Notwithstanding a warning issued by police yesterday to maintain peace on the eve of the first meeting of the new FTII Society headed by Chauhan, members of FTII Students Federation (FSA) staged a protest demonstration at the institute’s gate shouting “Gajendra Chauhan go back” which led to a scuffle between the students and police.

“We have been brutally targeted by police who lathi-charged us with the knowledge of FTII administration,” alleged one of the students as he was put in a police van and whisked away.

The students of the prestigious institution here were on a strike opposing Chauhan’s appointment since June 12 last year and called it off on October 28 and returned to the classes.

An FSA representative Vikas Urs said, “We had withdrawn the strike but we have not given up our resistance to the wrong appointments. Police have attacked on our peaceful protesters in connivance with the FTII administration. Our protest will continue”.

“We had asked the students to demonstrate peacefully but we had to use force because they wanted to block the way to the institute and therefore we had to detain them. We used minimum force,” said Tushar Joshi, Deputy Commissioner of Police who was on the spot.

The FSA has alleged that Chauhan lacks stature to head the FTII.

A tough posture by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry which steadfastly refused to accept the FSA demand for removal of Chauhan, a crackdown on some students and their arrest subsequent to gherao of the institute director Prashant Pathrabe ultimately saw the long drawn out agitation by students fizzle out last year as they returned to academics.

Meanwhile, the first meeting of FTII Society scheduled to be held today at the campus, is likely to be attended among others by Anagha Ghaisas, Rahul Solapurkar, Shailesh Gupta and Narendra Pathak — the members whose appointments have been objected by the FSA for being political and allegedly lacking in merit and stature for the post.