I Am Still In Shock, Says Beleaguered FTII Director Prashant Pathrabe

19/08/2015 3:44 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
SAJJAD HUSSAIN via Getty Images
Indian students from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), along with other student activists, chant slogans during a protest against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of the FTII, in New Delhi on August 3, 2015. Protesters are demanding the removal of Chauhan, who they say is not qualified for the post but was given the position due to political reasons, and have been boycotting their classes at the institute over the issue since June 12. AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

The director of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) of Pune, who was on Monday night detained inside his office by a group of agitating students for over eight hours, told reporters today that he had no choice but to call the police and was still in a state of mental shock.

"I was kept in illegal confinement by students for about eight to ten hours on Monday night," Prashant Pathrabe told reporters. He said initially about six people had sought permission to meet him but 40-50 people ended up coming to his office and he "had no choice but to start a discussion with them".

ANI quoted him as saying that for the initial couple of hours he did not want to involve the police, but after 4-5 hours when the students would not give in, he called the cops. "They formed chains to forcefully block me. I was verbally assault," he said.

He also said the students broke his office furniture in the scuffle following the arrival of police at the campus.

"I really wonder by what yardstick you can call such people 'students'. They wanted to enact a drama, it was all pre-planned to show the Director and the Institution in poor light. I had to take the unfortunate step of filing an FIR with the police as tolerating this kind of lawless behavior would have emboldened them," he said.

A team of officials from the Information and Broadcasting ministry will visit Pune to assess the situation at the restive campus, where students are on an indefinite strike. The decision to form a ministry team comes a day after five students were arrested on charges of rioting based on a complaint filed by Pathrabe.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has offered to provide a temporary space to the agitating students to hold their classes in the national capital, according to reports. The Delhi government is even ready to convert the temporary arrangement into a full-fledged institute, Kejriwal said.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also tweeted in support of the FTII students.

"Am shocked to hear whats going on at FTII. An internationally reputed institute being systematically destroyed by govt's wrong decisions. My offer to FTII students -- Del govt can provide u temp space in Del. Run ur classes here till central govt agrees If finally, central govt doesn't agree, we'll convert this place into full fledged institute n students can continue studying here only," Kejriwal said in a series of tweets.

READ: Swoop Down On Restive FTII Campus At Midnight, Arrest 5 Students For Rioting

READ: Run Your Classes In Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal Tells Agitating FTII Students

"In an educational institution, there’s a Laxman Rekha there. You don’t allow a third-party (police) to come in. You should be able to solve the problems between the institute and those who are fighting against it. This is ridiculous. It has never happened before and I am absolutely shocked at the fact that the police were invited into the institution to take students into custody," filmmaker Shyam Benegal told the Indian Express.

Police, armed with a list of 17 people, swooped down on the campus at midnight on Tuesday and arrested five students on charges of rioting and and unlawful assembly.

Of the 17 students named in the FIR, three are women who were not arrested, reported the Times of India. While there was confusion about some of the names, some students escaped arrest because they were not on campus, according to the report.

Pathrabe was prevented from leaving his office late on Monday by agitating students protesting "irrational and unjustified" assessment of incomplete diploma projects. Pathrabe had decided to go ahead with the assessment of diploma films made by students of the 2008 batch despite stiff opposition from students and faculty members, reports said.

Acting on a complaint filed by Pathrabe, police lodged an FIR against 15 students. The students have been charged under sections 147 (rioting), 143, 149 (unlawful assembly), 353 (obstructing public servant from discharging duty), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the IPC, according to TOI.

The arrested students have been taken to the Deccan Gymkhana police station.

The gherao came amid now 71 days of protest against the appointment of BJP member and TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the prestigious institute.

TOI reported that around 45 minutes before the arrests, two groups of students and faculty members went to registrar UC Bodake's house in the campus to ask him to be present while they were being taken into custody. No one opened the door at Bodake's house.

"This is unacceptable. The students are our responsibility. I am surprised no one from the administration is here. The action is not justified at all," NDTV quoted faculty member and acting dean at FTII, Sandip Chatterjee, as saying.

The students will be produced in court today, the report stated.

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