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FTII Director: Students kept me in illegal confinement

FTII director Prashant Pathrabe said on Wednesday that a group of students kept him in illegal confinement for 8-10 hours and vandalized his office, forcing him to lodge a police complaint.

"Six people (students) had been asked to come but 40-50 came in forcibly. I had no choice but to start discussions with them. I was kept in illegal confinement for 8-10 hours on Monday night," Pathrabe told the media here.

After a discussion on the agenda of the assessment of the projects of the 2008 batch of students, when Pathrabe conveyed them his decision, the students said they would not let him to leave till he reversed it.

While that assessment decision has been put on hold, a three-member committee from the information and broadcasting ministry will visit FTII on August 21 after which the final picture would be clear, Pathrabe added.

"Initially, for a couple of hours, I refused to call the police. But after four to five hours when they didn't give in, I had no choice but to call the police," Pathrabe said, recalling his experience at night.

He said the students formed a human chain to block his movement, assaulted him verbally, and "tortured" him using interrogation techniques, with rapid-fire questions.

When the police came in later that night, there was a scuffle in the director's chamber and the students broke the office furniture and snapped the telephone lines, after which the office was sealed.

"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 institute and the director in poor light," Pathrabe said.

After the incident, he said he had no choice but to lodge a police complaint on Tuesday night as tolerating such lawless behaviour would have emboldened them.

"I am still in a state of mental shock. It will take me a couple of days to come to normalcy," Pathrabe said.

On April 27 last year, the FTII Academic Council decided an "as is where is" or "pro rata assessment" of 2008 batch's pending projects since the students had been repeatedly given time to comply.

Later, the audit team raised objections by saying that despite two zero years and extension of the course, the projects remained incomplete, adding to backlog.

Accodingly, the FTII decided to initiate action, starting with the oldest batch of 2008 which had 49 students.

After the developments of recent days, the assessment decision has been put on hold, Pathrabe said.

Meanwhile, FTII students have threatened to agitate further against the police action and the arrest of five students.

Many students alleged that the police action was meant to break the students' strike going on since June opposing the appointment of television actor Gajendra Chauhan as the FTII chairman.

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