FTII row: Students strike enters 5th day, Chauhan cries conspiracy

Pune: As their strike entered the fifth day, FTTI students were on Tuesday unrelenting in their demand for revoking the appointment of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of its governing council even as he claimed there was a 'conspiracy' behind the protests.

Nearly 150 students of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) boycotted classes and continued their protest on the campus raising slogans against Chauhan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and put up posters on walls and buildings in the premises. Chauhan is best known for his portrayal of Yudhisthir in the mega TV serial 'Mahabharat'.

Police personnel guard outside the Film and Telivision Institute of India (FTII), in Pune on Tuesday. Pic/PTIPolice personnel guard outside the Film and Telivision Institute of India (FTII), in Pune on Tuesday. Pic/PTI

Activists of All India Students' Association (AISA) also staged protests outside the Information and Broadcasting ministry in Delhi against Chauhan's appointment. The FTII students' association had sent a communication to Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday on their demands through FTII Director D Narain, after failing to get a positive response from the ministry even after four days of agitation.

"We are yet to hear anything from the government's side on the issue so far. The protest will continue till our demands are met," FTII students' association representative Rakesh Shukla told PTI today.

Meanwhile, the students' body claimed support of more filmmakers and artistes, including Govind Nihalani, Rakesh Sharma, Subhash Ghai, Mahesh Bhatt and Mukesh Bhatt. Rakesh Sharma, a filmmaker, in a statement said, "First the IITs, now FTII and IIMs - this seems to be a pattern to meddle with centres of excellence to turn them into partly-controlled bastions of mediocrity. We must all protest visibly and vocally. This appointment has shocked everyone in the Indian film fraternity. Mr Jaitley would be wise to rescind it as soon as possible."

Chauhan said the protest is not centred at one location, and that it is happening in different locations. "It is a conspiracy of some individual, who has a personal issue here. This matter is being politicised," he said.

Chauhan requested the striking students to stay away from this politics as it will not benefit them. Speaking about his credentials to be appointed to the FTII post, Chauhan said, "I have been interviewed by the I&B ministry multiple times before I was put on this post. It was not an overnight decision by anyone."

Chauhan, who is affiliated to the BJP, said that ideology will be kept outside the gates of FTII. "I'm an actor first, for the past 34 years in the field of arts. Ideology has been there only for 10 years. I promise all the students, that ideology will not affect FTII. There will only be betterment of FTII," he added.

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