Mumbai: The strike by the students of the Film and Television Institute of India is over. On Wednesday, the students declared that the strike, which began on June 12, was being called off and they would resume academic activities. However, they made it clear that their protest would continue and they would “rack our minds to figure out new ways to escalate and voice our discontent.”
“Even after 139 days of non-violent, peaceful and democratic days of protest and strike, in which we’ve made the use of different democratic tools to try and bring attention to the systemic issues of this institute epitomised by the most opaque and farcical appointments to the FTII Society and get the government to holistically act upon them, we’ve taken the decision to return to our academics, but keep the protest on and in fact rack our minds to figure out new ways to escalate and voice our discontent,” the students said in a mailed statement to the media.
In a letter to the ministry, the students said, “We have always been naïve students standing in front of their government, in what has always been a very unequal power balance, asking the government officials to listen to them, to understand them and a stand they have taken not for their own selfish interests but to put the institute in a position to impart excellence to the incoming generations of filmmakers of our country.
“We must mention that until today, no tangible solution to resolve the crisis has really been given to us. Even when our representatives were whisked away to the national capital and made certain assurances by the honourable Mr Jaitley and Mr Rathore themselves, our attempts to understand certain incongruities in the FTII constitution as per your assurances were ignored and from then on we were given either cryptic responses or signals or even more amusingly told that our ‘politicisation’ had led to the withdrawal of any such solutions.”
Three former students also declared that they would return their national awards to the government. “What is the point of awarding individuals while simultaneously eroding and undermining the very institutions that produce them?” the three ex-students — Prateek Vats, Vikrant Pawar, Rakesh Shukla said in a statement.
The strike had been called after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had appointed actor and BJP worker Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the FTII. The students claimed Chauhan did not have the requisite credentials for such a post and his appointment was a blatant attempt at “saffronisation” of the institute.
The I & B ministry had invited students for talks recently but four rounds with officials and one with the minister Rajyavardhan Rathore produced no resolution. According to the students, the main issue of the appointment of Chauhan did not even come up in the discussions.