Pune: Amid dramatic scenes and vociferous demonstrations by the FTII students, TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan on Wednesday took charge as Chairman of the premiere institute in Pune, even as police detained nearly 40 protesters who were calling him a “political appointee”.
The FTII administration said Chauhan had officially taken over as chairman of the institute.
Earlier, police rounded up about 40 student protesters using force as they staged a demonstration, beating drums and displaying placards with slogans of “Gajendra Chauhan go back”. The controversial appointee at that point was confined to his hotel room in the vicinity of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).
When asked about the continuing students’ protest to his appointment, Chauhan, before reaching the campus, said, “We have come to do a job. We have an agenda and we will do our job.”
The FTII Students Association (FSA) members, who had earlier called-off their 139-day strike last year opposing Chauhan’s appointment alleging that he lacked stature to head the institute, gathered early in the morning at the main gate of the FTII, ignoring a warning issued yesterday by police to maintain peace at the time of Chauhan’s entry on the campus.
A scuffle ensued between police and the protesters as police used force to put them in vans and detain them to clear the gate before Chauhan left for FTII to take charge.
A woman student of the FTII, Shimi told PTI, “We were protesting peacefully to register our dissent because political appointees are taking charge as members of the FTII Society. We got beaten up without provocation and taken to police station. Our protest and resistance will continue.”
However, Pune’s Deputy Commissioner of Police Tushar Joshi, who was on the spot, said, “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.” The students continued to raise anti-Chauhan slogans even as his car entered the FTII premises.
Other controversial members of the FTII society with alleged BJP affiliation — Rahul Solapurkar, Angha Ghaisas, Shailesh Gupta and Narendra Pathak — also attended the first meeting convened by Chauhan as the chairman.
Meanwhile, the FSA said that though they had withdrawn their prolonged strike on October 28 despite lack of response from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to their demand for removal of Chauhan, the students were determined to carry on their resistance to his political appointment in a peaceful manner.