More than 200 US-based academicians, scholars, teachers, students and Silicon Valley professionals have written a letter, dated 19 September, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing solidarity with the protesting FTII students.
The list includes names like popular writer and academician Noam Chomsky, Partha Chatterjee, Raza Mir and Vijay Prasad among others.
Chomsky is an eminent political commentator and social justice activist who has authored several books including ‘Manufacturing Consent‘.
“The action of your government in installing individuals whose qualifications are arbitrary at best as members of the Governing Council at FTII is regrettable and seems motivated mostly by their allegiance to the BJP. The credentials of these hires, including Mr. Gajendra Chauhan (candidate for chair of the Governing Body), Ms. Anagha Ghaisas, Mr. Narendra Pathak, Mr. Pranjal Saikia, and Mr.
Rahul Solapurkar are dubious in the extreme,” read the letter.
The signatories also mentioned the problem of the alleged growing interference of government in other premiere institutes like CHR, ICCR, NFDC, NBT, CBFC, Prasar Bharati, the IIMs, the IITs, etc.
The police crackdown on protesting students, which compelled them to sit on a hunger-strike, has also been condemned by the signatories. “It is sad indeed that the students of one of the best film schools in the world are struggling to have their legitimate concerns addressed,” it said.
The letter was written to mark the 100th day of the students’ strike and demanded a quick action to resolve the entire issue.
FTII students, who were sitting on a hunger strike, called it off on 27 September after the government fixed the meeting dates.
FTII stir to continue, next round of talks on October 1
Agitating students stick to their core demand for dissolution of the FTII governing council headed by Gajendra Chouhan.
The ongoing strike by students of the Film and Television Institute of India is set to continue as parleys between them and officials of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry remained inconclusive on Tuesday. The two sides will meet again on October 1, in a bid to end the logjam over the controversial appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the premier institute.
On Sunday, protesting students called off their relay hunger strike after the I&B Ministry agreed for fresh talks. However, the talks held on Tuesday at the office of the Films Division in Mumbai, did not bring anything concrete for students. The students have been demanding the annulment of the appointment of Mr. Chauhan as chairman and other members perceived close to the Sangh. They have also called for a review of the existing system of appointments, stressing on transparency.
Vikas Urs, representative of the FTII students who attended the meeting, said the I&B officials “heard out” the students delegation, which reiterated its demands. “They said they would get back to us on October 1 as they had no mandate to take a decision,” he told The Hindu. The meeting was attended by joint secretary K. Sanjay Murthy, deputy secretary Deepak Sharma and FTII director Prashant Pathrabe.
Mr. Pathrabe said he was barred from speaking on the outcome of the talks. “All I can tell you is that we will have another round of meeting on October 1.”
Those present in the meeting however said there was a lot of progress on some issues. But would it materialised into an end to the deadlock, the Mr. Urs remained evasive. “We have no idea if the strike will come to an end soon. But we are hopeful that our concerns are kind of addressed,” Mr. Urs said.
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