Police have identified 18 more students from FTII in connection with the alleged “gherao” and “illegal confinement” of the institute’s director Prashant Pathrabe last year and issued them notices to present themselves before court on March 14.
However, the FTII Students’ Association (FSA) has dubbed the police action as “arm-twisting” tactics by Film and Television Institute of India’s administration.
With this, the total number of students named in the case has reached to 35, as 17 students were identified earlier. Out of those 17, five were arrested while 12 others are out on anticipatory bail.
“Seventeen students were already identified and named in the earlier FIR. Now, after screening the video footage of the incident, the complainant (Pathrabe) and eye-witnesses have identified some more students, and on that basis their names have been included in the case. They have been issued notices last evening,” Deccan-Gymkhana police inspector Pravin Chaugule said.
He said the police are in the process of filing a charge sheet in the case by Monday.
Besides the new 18 students identified, the 12, who were earlier named in the FIR but not arrested, have also been asked to present themselves in court, he said.
The FTII students, who were on strike for 139 days since June last year against the appointment of BJP member and TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as its chairman, had allegedly gheraoed and confined Pathrabe at his office on August 17.
They had challenged his decision to go ahead with the assessment of the incomplete diploma film projects of the 2008 batch students.
The incident had led to police swooping-in on the campus on the intervening night of August 18-19, and arresting five students. The students were charged under various sections of IPC, including 143, 147, 149, 323, 353 and 506, dealing with offences, some of them non-bailable, related to unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation and rioting.
Meanwhile, the FSA has condemned the police action.
“The FTII administration on one hand draws out academic schedules and deadlines, and on the other proceeds with the court cases to corner the students,” it said in a release issued here.
“It is extremely disheartening and shameful to see the administration of a premier government-run institute arm-twisting its students on orders from their superiors, who happen to be the elected representatives of the citizens,” the students’ body alleged.
It makes sense to see this in the context of the incidents in JNU and a progression in the current government’s approach and attempts to “criminalising dissent”, it said.