Din of 'Gajendra go back' greets Chauhan on his first day at FTII

Actor Gajendra Chauhan took charge as the chairman of the film institute yesterday; while a day of meetings awaited him, he was welcomed by the sounds of protesting students and of the dhol-tasha arranged by the staff

After three months of protests against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as its chairman, the agitating students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) finally came face-to-face with him yesterday. Chauhan was greeted by students with, “Gajendra go back,” when he arrived at the campus in Pune. The demonstrations continued till evening, while Chauhan chaired a meeting with the rest of the faculty.

Students protest at the FTII entrance. Pics/PTIStudents protest at the FTII entrance. Pics/PTI

While the agitating students were wearing black ribbons, the staff had prepared to welcome Chauhan with dhol-tasha. Irked by the grand preparations, the FTII students shouted “Go back, Chauhan.” A Facebook page created by the students has labelled Thursday’s meeting as ‘besharam’ (shameless).

Gajendra Chauhan
Gajendra Chauhan

Staff’s warm reception
Chauhan was accorded a warm reception by the staff, administration and faculty. Speaking to the staff members, Chauhan said he would do his best to solve the problems of the institution, including the longstanding demand of pension for the staff. From 10 am to 6 pm, he had meetings with staff and other constituent bodies of FTII. Chauhan did not interact with the students or media persons. While leaving the premises, he told the media, “The meetings were good.”

Anticipating the protests, the police had deployed heavy bandobast at the FTII campus.

Chauhan chaired his first FTII Society meeting at around 11 am. To avoid any chaos, the Deccan Gymkhana police had issued notices on Wednesday itself to 17 students, who had held FTII director Prashant Pathrabe captive during their strike in September 2015.

Students, cops scuffle
Notwithstanding the warning, members of the FTII Students Federation (FSA) staged a protest at the institute’s gate, which led to a scuffle between them and the cops. The police detained about 35 students, including student body president Harishankar Nachimuthu. They were released at 6 pm.

“All of us students have been brutally targetted by police who lathi-charged us with the knowledge of FTII administration,” said Amey Gore a student of FTII. Vikas Urs, an FSA representative said, “We had withdrawn the strike but we have not given up our resistance to the wrong appointments. Police have attacked our peaceful protesters in connivance with the FTII administration. Our protest will continue. Some of our students were summoned by police on Wednesday to warn us.”

Police says
Deputy Commissioner of Police Tushar Doshi said, “We never manhandled any students. It’s a wrong allegation. Despite issuing notices to students on Wednesday asking them to carry out peaceful protests, the students created a ruckus on the road and tried to stop the vehicles. They had also tried to stop Chauhan’s vehicles. We had repeatedly warned them, but we had to use our force for law enforcement.”

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