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FTII students, I&B officials to hold talks in Mumbai on Tuesday

New Delhi: In yet another attempt to break the 109-day-long deadlock at the FTII, I and B Ministry officials and students of the prestigious institute agitating for the removal of actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as its Chairman will hold talks in Mumbai by Tuesday.

The talks is taking place even as the students today said several leading academicians and professionals from Silicon Valley, visited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his current US tour, have expressed solidarity with them.

Officials of the Information & Broadcasting Ministry will be holding talks with the students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) who called off their relay hunger strike yesterday after the government agreed to come to the negotiating table.

The meeting will take place at the office of the Films Division in Mumbai at 11 am tomorrow, Vikas Urs, spokesman of the FTII Students’ Association, told PTI in Mumbai.

Asked if FTII students had a specific agenda for the meeting, Urs said, “There is no agenda. We want the issue to be resolved and all our cocnerns addressed.”

When asked if students are firm on removal of Chauhan, Urs said, “Our demands are not limited to removal of a person”. The strike entered the 109th day today.

Among other issues, the students have two main demands, namely to dissolve the present FTII society and simultaneously set up a new search committee, through a transparent process in place to look into appointments of chairperson, members and other staff.

They also want FTII to be given the status of a premier national institute like the IITs and the IIMs, so that no bureaucrat is appointed as FTII’s director.

“We don’t have any personal animosity against Gajendra Chauhan and other members. We want someone, who truly has a body of work of national and international standards,” a former FTII student said.

After a police crackdown on students who had gheraoed FTII director Prashant Pathrabe, the Union I&B Ministry had appointed a three-member panel headed by S M Khan, the Registrar of Newspapers for India, to have a dialogue with the students.

The step was taken due to all-round pressure from students, their parents, alumni association as well as the film fraternity to end the logjam.

The Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry appointed committee had visited FTII’s Pune campus on August 21 and held discussions with students, faculty members and the alumni association.

Addressing a press conference in Delhi, a group of FTII students said they appreciated Prime Minister’s efforts abroad, but also felt that world class institutions cannot be built if government makes “sub-standard” appointments.

Kislay, an alumni of FTII, said around 200 prominent intellectuals in the US had expressed solidarity with them which included Noam Chomsky of MIT, Partha Chatterjee of Columbia University, besides IT professionals and students.

In a letter to the PM, signed by these eminent intellectuals, the students have raised concerns not only about Chauhan’s appointment as FTII chief but also regarding the credentials of some other council members.