Pune : Gajendra Chauhan on Thursday morning assumed office as FTII chairman as a large number of students staged a vociferous protest outside the campus. Police caned and detained at least 20 students.
The police, deployed in large numbers, resorted to mild caning after some students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) attempted to block the route taken by Chauhan, who came for his first take-over meeting of the FTII Society. He was appointed its chairman in June last year.
The assembled students shouted slogans "Go back Chauhan" and "Chauhan murdabad" as he arrived at the campus and some attempted to stop him from entering the premises. At least 17 students had already been served notices warning them of stringent action if they attempted to create a ruckus on the campus during Chauhan's visit.
Some students accused the police of high-handedness and manhandling the students who were protesting peacefully when they were forcibly dragged by the police personnel to waiting vans. Student leader Reema Kaur told IANS that their demonstration was "silent, and made violent by the police".
"The students were protesting at the gate peacefully. Police staged a lathi-charge. They hurt many students and put them in the riot van. It is a curfew-like situation on the campus," Kaur said. FTII Students' Association (FTIISA) president Harishankar Nachimuthu was also among those detained, Kaur added.
The FTIISA had announced on Wednesday its plan to 'resist' Chauhan as its demands remained unmet by the authorities concerned. "Our core demand was to place the newly-appointed society in abeyance and to set proper criteria and procedure to appoint the FTII Society and it still remains the same," the FTIISA said in a statement.
The FTIISA said that "we still have problem with these appointments and will continue to resist it unless the concerned authorities put the society in abeyance and set a process for further appointements, since it is the question of our academics."
The direct protest against Chauhan on Thursday came after the students on June 12 went on strike, which was called off on October 28 -- after 139 days, "against the political appointments of incapable people in the FTII Society".
Chauhan, best known for essaying the role of 'Yudhishthir' in B.R. Chopra's "Mahabharat" besides featuring in small roles in various films like "Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge" and "Baghban", was appointed FTII chairman on June 9, last year.