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Top educationists support protesting Pune film institute students, insist Govt of India must "withdraw"

By Our Representative
Expressing solidarity with the protesting Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan to chair the top Pune institute, the All India Forum for the Right to Education (AIFRTE), the well-known educationists' body, has asked the Government of India to take "immediate corrective action" against his appointment and other "appointees to the governing council".
Insisting that these "should be withdrawn and appointments of credible persons following transparent procedures should immediately be undertaken", the AIFRTE said, "This is urgently required for what is involved is not the trivial issue of ‘face-saving’ for the government. It is the future of the country’s foremost academic, cultural and intellectual institutions which is at stake."
The AIFRTE has under its fold include Prof Sudarshan Iyengar, ex-Gujarat Vidyapeeth vice chancellor and a well known Gandhian; Prof Ram Puniyani of the All India Secular Forum, Mumbai; Dr BD Sharma of the Bharat Jan Andolan, Delhi; and top educationist Prof Anil Sadgopal.
Issuing a statement on the 87th day of the students' protest, AIFRTE said, the students have been "peacefully and patiently protesting against the politically motivated and non-transparent appointments by the central government of RSS members, associates and supporters to crucial positions of Chairman and members of the FTII Society which directly impact the credibility of this prestigious national institute and film school".
Issued in the context of supporting Abhijit Das, a faculty of the institute who is also its alumnus, for embarking on an indefinite hunger fast in support of the students. movement, the statement said, "At the expense of their professional training and their futures, the students have consistently and courageously stood up against a regime which is rapidly emerging as a threat to the country’s entire cultural and intellectual structure by placing a series of extremely mediocre but ideologically amenable and pliable persons in positions of authority in all national bodies".
"The sustained and principled struggle of the students of the FTII has in fact shown the country that their path of resistance is the only way to stop this trend. They are not only struggling to protect FTII but are defending the basic right of all our cultural and academic bodies and institutions to be assured of their intellectual and professional credibility", the statement said.
"The support across the country for the FTII students struggle is growing day by day. The Central Government should acknowledge and not aggravate its mistakes", the statement demanded, adding, the AIFRTE particularly takes exception to the "intemperate action taken by the Director and the authorities of the FTII in having summoned police onto the campus with non-bailable arrest warrants against students of the institute."
"Although the court later granted them bail, this shocking action, which could not have been taken without the support and tacit consent of Information & Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley, was the proverbial ‘midnight knock’ that is associated with all authoritarian regimes and shows the desperation of the government in handling a situation in which only its ineptitude and political bias have landed it", the statement said.

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