Expressing disappointment with government's response to their demand, students of the FTII decided to continue their strike which entered the 24th day today till TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan's appointment as its chairman is cancelled.
A row, meanwhile, broke out as to what had transpired at the talks the representatives of the Film and Television Institute of India students' Association had with Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi on Friday.
While asserting that there could be no "compromise on the core concern", the FSA today claimed that Jaitley spoke of prospects of a "shutdown or privatisation" if they persisted with their main demand for revocation of Chauhan's appointment.
I&B ministry officials in Delhi strongly refuted the contention that a reference was made regarding privatisation at the talks. A reference, they said, was made about the ERC recommendations.
They said that it was mentioned that the Geeta Krishnan Report (Expenditure Reforms Commission Report) had clearly recommended that both SRFTI and FTII be handed over to the film industry.
Officials said it was mentioned that the ministry while not having implemented this recommendation, has been endeavouring to support these institutions to become centres of excellence and has even prepared a legislative framework towards this end.
FTII Director DJ Narain contradicted the FSA version of the discussion with Jaitley in respect of privatisation and shutdown of FTII.
"The minister did not talk about privatisation or a shutdown of the institute at all. FSA totally misunderstood what the minister said in reference to the report of Geeta Krishnan committee in the late 90's recommending privatisation of institutions including FTII which the I and B ministry did not accept. On the contrary the ministry pumped more funds to boost the FTII", he told PTI.
The FSA reiterated that they will continue their 24-day old strike till their main demands of Chauhan's removal and reconstitution of the FTII Society are met.
Briefing reporters about their hour-long meeting with Jaitley, FSA spokesman Vikas Urs claimed the minister evaded their core concern (reconstitution of FTII society and removal of Chauhan as chairman) during the discussions and gave an assurance of setting up a new committee to address the issues raised by the delegation for "future appointments".
Urs, a member of the students' delegation that met Jaitley, quoted the minister as having said, "If the students persisted with reconstitution of the FTII society (implying Chauhan's removal), they might face bleak prospects of a shutdown or privatisation of the FTII".
"There was no solution offered to end the strike and all solutions were for future. No justification or reasoning was offered for appointment of Chauhan or other members of the FTII society. Since our main concern is still exists, the strike is on", Urs said.
FSA spokesman Urs alleged that some members of the newly-appointed FTII Society had issued threats to the agitating students through "provocative and intimidating" statements.
When this was brought to the notice of the minister, he said that it could be a reaction to the statements made by the FTII students, Urs claimed.
He said Jaitley refused to accept the FSA demand to keep the present FTII Society in suspended animation till the proposed new committee to suggest guidelines to turn FTII into an "Institution of National Importance" addresses the issues raised by the students.
"We feel disappointment with the ministry's response to our demands. But we are resolved to continue our stir for a just cause by mobilising public opinion and reaching out to various sections of the society who might have different ideologies but have concerns for educational institutions," said Urs.