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Parents of FTII students seek PM intervention to end impasse

With no solution in sight to the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) impasse, parents of the agitating students today sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention for an early resolution to the strike which entered its 70th day.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry, which has constituted a three-member committee to study the ground situation, meanwhile maintained that though it was willing to discuss and resolve issues the students were being inflexible.

At a press conference held here, agitating students called the police action unjustified after five students of the institute were arrested on charges of rioting after FTII director Prashant Pathrabe filed a complaint.

"It is a deliberate attempt to break the spirit of the students but it would not succeed," Kislay, one of the protesting students, told reporters. He added there would be more protests across the country.

The students claimed that they were acting in a democratic manner but the director had at the behest of the ministry filed the complaint after which arrests were made. Videos of the incident, they said, made it clear that students were not at fault.

Parents of some of the FTII students were also present and Vishnu Biswas, father of 3rd year student Raju Biswas, who is one of those arrested, shared his agony.

He said he was undergoing a phase of "depression" because of the events and hoped that government would come up with a solution after holding discussions with the students.

Similar sentiments were expressed by parents of other students.

Another parent A Thothathri Raman appealed to Modi to step in to resolve the issue.

Some artistes including painter Vivan Sunderam also spoke in favour of the students.

I&B Ministry sources meanwhile held that removing Gajendra Chauhan as the institute's chairman, as is being demanded by the agitating students, would set a bad precedent but added that it is open to a dialogue.

They said there had been meetings with students including by I&B Minister Arun Jaitley but no progress could be as the students had adopted a very adamant stance.

Asked about the police action, ministry officials only said that it was a result of the FIR filed by the director.

They added that assessment of students of 2008 batch has been long overdue and authorities were only following up decisions taken earlier.

Meanwhile, the issue led to a war of words today with Rahul Gandhi today slamming the government over the arrests, telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the students are not criminals who need to be caught in a midnight crackdown and Union minister Mahesh Sharma hitting back at the Congress leader for extending his support to the students' protest.

"I think Rahul ji should pay interest in much of other activities rather than meeting hooligans and supporting all these causes. This is a small matter, which would be settled within the management itself," Sharma told reporters here.

Sources said that the FTII administration is concerned over the fact that several students of the 2008 batch have not yet passed out of the institute. So the projects of 2008 batch have been assessed on as is where is basis as per norms which the students are opposing.

The FTII Students' Association (FSA) have called the "assessment" unjustified. When asked why they were opposing the assessment process, students said that were questioning the timing.

Overstaying by previous batches also affects the fresh batches, officials said, adding while there have been zero admission years, these have not served the purpose towards resolving problems at FTII.

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