New Delhi: The current students' strike at FTII has its roots in an attack by ABVP members on some people from the prestigious institute two years back and "off and on" presence of the activists of the Hindu right wing organisation on the campus, an official note sent to PMO has said.

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The unsigned note, apparently from a top Film and Television Institute of India official, says the FTII students union was "apolitical" and the current agitation was also "not against any political party".

Students protest the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as FTII chairperson.
Students protest the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as FTII chairperson. File Pic

The "present ground posturing" on the campus has been impacted by an incident that happened two years back when some people in FTII were attacked by ABVP members outside National Film Archives of India at the time of the screening of national award winning documentary 'Jai Bhim Comrade' by Anant Patwardhan, the note to Information & Broadcasting Ministry, obtained through an RTI query, says.

"Though never openly said in press, I feel, the current protest has a lot to do with this past recent experience of clash with ABVP members.

"Visit of same film maker Mr Patwardhan to the campus to support the students and subsequent constant interest shown by ABVP about the student protests and their on and off presence has given a new perspective and complex undercurrent to whole logjam," it said.
The note has been forwarded by the I&B Ministry to the Prime Minister's Office.

"Director FTII has been asked to monitor the situation sincerly and keep this ministry posted regularly," K Sanjay Murthy, Joint Secretary (Films), said in a brief Office Memorandum to PMO on June 26 to which the FTII official's note was annexed.

Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) is the students' front of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological mentor of BJP and several big and small Hindu right wing outfits.

The RSS had strongly defended the appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan as FTII chief, a move which has crippled the functioning of the premier institute. Giving details of the status of the agitation, before Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi's visit to the Institute recently, says attempts have been made by most political parties to come and join the protests, but students have, by
far, restrained themselves from taking their support.

"They did, however, allow (film maker) Anant Patwardhan and Yogendra Yadav (Ex-AAP leader) to visit the campus on the first and second day of the strike respectively, which led many to believe that it is a leftist movement of some sorts. As I understand the protest appears to be apolitical," it said.

The document said the recent resistance by FTII students against appointments of "certain members" of FTII society is "coloured" by their past experience.

"Strong perceptions were formed which were reinforced by some press statements coming after the start of agitation and attributed to some society members that they would teach FTII students a lesson in nationalism etc.

"Further, on and off, reported presence of same set of ABVP members in campus, who had allegedly attacked the students two years back (as per the statements by students and even posed by media as a question to me yesterday evening) is not helping towards an early movement towards a solution," said the note.

On Gajendra Chauhan's controversial appointment, the note said while the students understand that it is the prerogative of the government to nominate the Chairman, they believe the actor's appoinment would deal a "serious blow" to their ideological autonomy in some sense and compromise their perceived core ideas of institutional autonomy. Chauhan has long-standing links with BJP.