I&B Ministry officials, FTII students begin 3rd round of talks

The crucial talks between Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials and FTII students to help break the impasse over the appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan as the Pune-based institute's chairman are underway at the Films Division office here.

I&B Ministry Secretary Sunil Arora is presiding over the discussions. He is accompanied by Joint Secretary K Sanjay Murthy and Deputy Secretary Deepak Kumar.

Seven students of the Film and Television Institute of India, including FTII's Student Association (FSA) president Harishankar Nachimuthu, are holding talks with the I&B Ministry officials.

Malyaj Awasthi, one of the seven FTII students who is part of the dialogue with the I&B Ministry officials to break the over 100 days deadlock, said prior to the meeting that, "We are going to meet the officials with an open heart and mind, even as our demands are same - to disband (the institute's) society and remove Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the institute." This is the third time that the two sides are sitting together in Mumbai after the students and the ministry decided to renew their dialogue. In the earlier two meetings between the two sides, the ministry delegation was headed by a joint secretary.

With FTII students sticking to their demand for removal of Chauhan as the institute's chairman, the two rounds of talks held earlier failed to break the deadlock.

While the students, who have been boycotting classes since June 12, are demanding Chauhan's removal, the ministry has firmly backed his appointment.

An 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 had earlier called off their 18-day-old relay hunger strike on September 27.

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