Amidst peaceful protests that turned into loud demonstrations -- which in turn required police intervention -- TV actor and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Gajendra Chauhan on Thursday took charge as Chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune.
Banner saying "Tyranny of the Elected" put up by protesting students taken offJanuary 7, 2016
Students of the premiere filmmaking institute have been protesting against Chauhan's appointment as the Chairman since June 2015, on grounds if it being 'politically motivated'. From hunger fasts, to strikes and demonstrations, the students have also been a part of several rounds of talks with the Information and Broadcasting ministry to break the deadlock.
The FTII Students Association (FSA) members, who had earlier called-off their 139-day strike last year opposing Chauhan's appointment alleging that he lacked stature to head the institute, gathered early in the morning at the main gate of the FTII, ignoring a warning issued on Wednesday by police to maintain peace at the time of Chauhan's entry on the campus, reported PTI.
However, Pune's Deputy Commissioner of Police Tushar Joshi said that the students wanted to block the way to the institute and thus had to be restrained -- adding that they used 'minimum force'.
The ensuing scuffle let to the detainment of 40 protestors, enraging the crowd even more.
A woman student of FTII was quoted by PTI as saying, "We were protesting peacefully to register our dissent because political appointees are taking charge as members of the FTII Society. We got beaten up without provocation and taken to the police station. Our protest and resistance will continue."
The controversial chairman, who was confined to his hotel room till things calmed down, finally took over as the chairman of the institute.
"We have come to do a job. We have an agenda and we will do our job," he told the media succinctly.
Social media was unanimously in support of the students, who they thought were being severely mistreated. From sharing videos to outraged posts and memes to sarcastic comments, Twitter and Facebook were abuzz with views on the issue.
Bilateral talks with terrorists. War with FTII students.
56-inch bravery!— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) January 7, 2016
Saw the FTII lathicharge clips. This is no way treat senior citizens— IndiaSpeaks (@IndiaSpeaksPR) January 7, 2016
#FTII students are seeking a professional career; it is sad and shameful that their cry for a respectable head, duly recognized, is rejected— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) January 7, 2016
Along with Chauhan, other controversial members of the FTII with alleged BJP affiliations — Rahul Solapurkar, Anagha Ghaisas, Shailesh Gupta, and Narendra Pathak — were also present for the first meeting.
Chauhan, who allegedly had been selected on the basis of a one-para CV, has worked in around 150 movies and over 600 TV serials. He is best known for the portrayal of the eldest Pandava Yudhishtir, in the BR Chopra epic TV series Mahabharat.
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