A full-fledged duel has broken out between FTII students and ABVP members after a verbal spat turned ugly and members of both groups got injured leading to formal police complaints by both groups.
On Wednesday, when the whole city was observing a bandh to condemn the deadly assassination of anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, five students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) were attacked outside the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) by members of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
The attack took place soon after the screening of Anand Patwardhan’s documentary ‘Jai Bheem Comrade’ and the performance of the play Kabir Kala Manch at NFAI, as part of a tribute to Dr Narendra Dabholkar. The programme was organised by the FTII student’s body in association with Yugpath, a youth forum based in Pune.
This was the first public performance of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) after two and a half years. The five students attacked were Shameen, a second year cinematography student, Ansar Shah, a third year cinematography student, Kislay, a third year editing student, Sriram Raju, also a third year editing student and Ajayan Adat who is a third year student of sound engineering.
Adat said, “About 150 students and audience were gathered for the screening of the documentary and play performance. After a verbal spat post the event, some ABVP members started calling all FTII students Naxalites.
Riled by the heated argument, ABVP workers asked me to shout ‘Narendra Modi Ki Jai’ and ‘ABVP Ki Jai’. I refused saying I am not a politician but a filmmaker; but they started beating me with a helmet. It was shocking for us because there were police officers both in uniform and in plain clothes present, but they did nothing.”
ABVP activist Sagar Shinde, who has injured during the incident, said, “We had gone to NFAI to see the documentary and the play. We never intended to create chaos there. After the documentary got over, we all came out of the hall while the electronic media assembled was gathering bytes from people present.
Hearing the comments, we could not stop asking questions to the crew of KKM, on their connection with the Naxalite movement. As a heated argument ensued, security guards from NFAI intervened and we decided to leave. At that point, some students started shouting slogans like ‘laal nishan zindabaad’ and attacked us. I was injured along with another ABVP worker as FTII students hit us with sticks.”
Shinde, who was admitted to Prayag Hospital after the incident for primary treatment was later, shifted to Sassoon Hospital as the incident blew up into a police case. He was discharged from the hospital in the wee hours of Thursday.
Vivekanand Ujalambkar, unit secretary, ABVP Pune said, “We have lodged an official complaint at Deccan police station against the FTII students and KKM activists after the incident. Our activists had not gone there to create a ruckus. But, after one of our workers heard a student proudly proclaiming that he is proud to be a Naxalite an argument ensued. FTII has also lodged a complaint against the ABVP activists at Deccan Police Station.
As both ABVP has also lodged a formal complaint, parties FTII student Ajeyan fears for his life. He said, “They have my photograph with them and also threatened to kill me during the spat. I am worried what if tomorrow they barge into our campus and kill me.
I am more concerned because I feel this whole incident seems planned and the also police seem to be playing along with them. I say this because no officer stepped in to help us when they saw us getting beaten up. We are planning to launch a nationwide protest by cultural and youth groups against the recent attacks on cultural and literary figures.”
Deepak Dengle, an
artiste who is part of Kabir Kala Manch, said, “I don’t think any KKM activist was present there when the spat occurred. We left the venue after the programme. This is people’s way of troubling us. Such things will keep happening between people with progressive minds and fundamentalists. Basically, a certain section of society has a problem with our ideology.”