Gajendra Chauhan's First Visit to FTII Provokes Student Protests

Students claim they were beaten up, police says minimum force was used

Police in Pune used force to disperse and round up a group of about 40 FTII students protesting against TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan after he arrived to take charge as the institute’s Chairman today. A warning had been issued to the students by the police on Wednesday to maintain peace when Chauhan came for the first meeting of the new FTII Society but this was ignored by the FTII Students Federation (FSA) who staged a protest demonstration at the institute’s gate shouting “Gajendra Chauhan go back”.

“We have been brutally targeted by police who lathi-charged us with the knowledge of FTII administration,” alleged one of the students as he was put in a police van and whisked away. Videos of the scuffle between the cops and the students were on social media soon after.

The students of the prestigious institution had held a 139 day strike opposing Chauhan’s appointment last year. An FSA representative Vikas Urs said, “We had withdrawn the strike but we have not given up our resistance to the wrong appointments. Police have attacked on our peaceful protesters in connivance with the FTII administration. Our protest will continue”.

“We had asked the students to demonstrate peacefully but we had to use force because they wanted to block the way to the institute and therefore we had to detain them. We used minimum force,” said Tushar Joshi, Deputy Commissioner of Police who was on the spot.

The FSA has alleged that Chauhan lacks stature to head the FTII.

Meanwhile, the first meeting of FTII Society scheduled to be held today at the campus, was attended among others by Anagha Ghaisas, Rahul Solapurkar, Shailesh Gupta and Narendra Pathak — the members whose appointments have been objected by the FSA for being political and lacking in merit and stature for the post.

Asked to react to the students’ continuing opposition to his posting, Gajendra Chauhan who remained confined to his hotel room in the vicinity of the FTII as police cleared the institute gate rounding up the students protesters, said, “we have come here for a job and we will do our job.”

A female student of the FTII said,” We were protesting peacefully at the main gate to register our dissent because politically appointed people are taking charge as members of the FTII Society. We got beaten up without any provocation and were taken to police station. Our protest is on and fight will continue.”

With inputs from PTI