FTII-I&B talks fail to break deadlock; next meet on October 1

A marathon meeting between agitating students of FTII and the I&B Ministry officials today failed to break the deadlock over the appointment of Gajendra Chouhan as chairman of the institute with the students insisting on his removal.

"Despite a two-and-a-half-hour-long meeting with seven students and three joint secretary-level officials of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, we could not reach an accord as we emphasised on the core demand that was to remove the present governing council headed by Gajendra Chauhan," said Vikas Urs, spokesman of the FTII Students' Association (FSA).

The meeting, which began at 11 am at the Films Division office here ended at around 1.30 pm without making any breakthrough and the two sides decided to meet again on October one.

The students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), who have been agitating for the last 110 days, have been unrelenting on their demand for the ouster of Chouhan, an actor and BJP member.

"We don't have any personal animosity against Gajendra Chauhan and other members. We want someone who truly has a body of work of national and international standards," a former FTII student said. They have also been opposing the appointment of four members of the governing council--Narendra Pathak, Anagha Ghaisas, Shailesh Gupta and Rahul Sholapurkar by questioning their credentials.

Urs, one of the students invited for the talks, said, "We maintained our long-pending demand that is the dissolution of the present FTII governing council and simultaneously setting up of a new search committee through a transparent process in place to look into appointments of chairperson, members and other staff," he said.

The stir will continue. "We are very much hopeful that the meeting on Thursday would bring positive results," he said. Another FTII student, Malayaj Awasthi said, "We don't want temporary arrangements to end the deadlock, rather we want a permanent solution from the government that can bring the glory of the institute back."

The agitating students have also demanded that FTII should be given the status of a premier national institute like an IIT or an IIM.

Information and Broadcasting Ministry Joint Secretary Sanjay Murthy was among the officials who participated in the talks, a senior official said.

After a police crackdown on students who had gheraoed FTII Director Prashant Pathrabe in August, the I&B Ministry had appointed a three-member panel headed by S M Khan, the Registrar of Newspapers for India, to have a dialogue with the students to find a way out of the deadlock.

The step was taken due to all-round pressure from students, their parents, alumni association as well as the film fraternity to end the logjam. The I&B Ministry-appointed committee had visited FTII's Pune campus on August 21 and held discussions with students, faculty members and the alumni association.

The agitating students called off their 18-day-old relay hunger strike on Sunday after having boycotted classes since June 12.

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