Two in eye of FTII storm backed FIR against students

PUNE: Two FTII Society members, whose appointments are being opposed by the students’ association because of their saffron connections and “lack of credentials”, had backed the head of Radio FTII, Sanjay Chandekar, when he wanted to lodge a police complaint against some students earlier in the week. One of them, Anagha Ghaisas, even accompanied him to the police station to file an FIR on July 22.

Both Ghaisas and actor Rahul Solapurkar told TOI that they had supported and assisted Chandekar on “humanitarian grounds”.

Over the past few days, Sangh Parivar organisations have stepped up protests against the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students who have been demanding the removal of Gajendra Chauhan as chairperson of the society, and four others, including Ghaisas and Solapurkar.

Joint commissioner of police Sunil Ramanand told TOI on Saturday the police would investigate if anyone had instigated Chandekar to file the complaint. “We have launched a probe into Chandekar’s FIR and the investigating officer has also been asked to probe the drug abuse angle,” he added.

Chandekar had created a stir on Wednesday when he termed the FTII campus as a “den of drug addicts” and lodged a police complaint against some students saying that “they had threatened him”. Four students were booked in the case.

Speaking to TOI, Chandekar, on Saturday, said Ghaisas had accompanied him to lodge the complaint and he nodded when asked if he had sought help from Solapurkar.

“There is no harm in asking for help. I had requested the FTII director to provide me security on July 20. But I was told there aren’t enough security guards and subsequently, I was not provided any,” Chandekar said. He refused to speak any further.

On Friday, members of the Patit Pavan Sanghatana had said that Chandekar had sought their help which he denied.

Chandekar, and a current staff member V G Nerlekar and two ex-employees, including Shirish Vishwanath Tare of the institute, had organised a press conference on July 16 in which Chandekar had called FTII students “anarchists and disrespectful”.

On July 20, he withdrew all the statements he had made against the students and said they had only “cornered” him with “absurd questions”. He denied being threatened or physically assaulted by them. He later wrote to the director Prashant Pathrabe seeking security citing ‘threats’ from students. He has been on leave from Tuesday.

On Saturday, Ghaisas first told TOI that she was not with Chandekar when he lodged the FIR, but later said she had accompanied him to the Bund Garden police station.

“I denied it earlier as I was with some people. Chandekar sought my help on Wednesday morning as he trusted me. He did not get help from the FTII administration. It was my duty to help him. He first called Tare seeking his help and then approached me. When I met him, he was very scared and sobbing. So, I decided to help him on humanitarian grounds and went with him to the police station and lodged an FIR around 9.30pm,” she said.

Ghaisas and Tare, who retired from his job as a laboratory assistant last year, spoke on behalf of Chandekar on Saturday. They said, “Such treatment of the authorities is FTII students’ legacy. They are into drugs and have created nuisance in the past, and the staff members are scared of them.”

On political parties interfering in the agitation and if she would help students resolve the issue as a society member, Ghaisas said “she has not taken charge as yet”.

Solapurkar told TOI that Chandekar had approached him too and he “supported Chandekar to go ahead with filing the FIR”.

“As an FTII society member, if any staff asks for help, I will do so. Chandekar told me how obnoxious FTII students are and that he was being threatened. I could not go to the police station with him as I had met with an accident and am resting. So, Ghaisas went with Chandekar to lodge the FIR,” he said.

Senior inspector Pravin Chougle, in-charge of the Deccan Gymkhana police station, said, “We have recorded the statements of the students named in Chandekar’s complaint, but they have refuted the allegations. The students in their defence have sought time to submit the video recording of the alleged altercation that took place on July 20.”

One of the accused students said the allegations against them by Chandekar are baseless. “On July 20, five students walked up to Chandekar and questioned him about the press conference. We only asked him why did he make baseless comments without any discussion with the students or informing the director. He started arguing and took the matter to the director’s office. We have a video recording of the alleged altercation and we will submit it to police for further investigation,” the student added.

(With inputs from Neha Madaan)