Over 300 FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) alumni have penned an open letter expressing solidarity with the institute’s students following an attack by Hindutva mob, who targeted them for displaying a banner condemning the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid.
The letter, which was released on Friday, has been signed by former students of FTII including Oscar-winner Resul Pookutty, veteran director Saeed Mirza, filmmakers Prateek Vats, Payal Kapadia, Umesh Kulkarni, sound designer Bishwadeep Chatterjee, film editor Irene Dhar Malik, and actor Shardul Bhardwaj.
“It is painful to see the students of this great film school being assaulted with impunity. We, as a community of film professionals, educators, and artists of both national and international acclaim, extend our support to the FTII student community at this tough and testing moment,” read the letter.
The incident at the premier film institute in the country occurred on Tuesday, 23 January, a day after the consecration ceremony of the Ram temple. The temple now stands where Babri Masjid, which was demolished by Hindu nationalists in 1992, previously stood.
Over a dozen Hindutva men barged into the campus by overpowering security personnel, and brutally assaulted students while shouting Jai Shri Ram. They also tore up and burned a banner put up by the FTII Students Association (FSA) which read: “Remember Babri, Death of Constitution.”
The assailants targeted FTIISA president Mankap Nokwoham, general secretary Sayantan Chakrabarty, and two other students including a female student.
The alumni group said they “unequivocally condemn” the violence perpetrated on the students of the film institute.
A student had said to Maktoob that despite the presence of over a dozen security personnel, the incident unfolded, posing a serious security threat to students. The student further accused the police of complicity, alleging they stood by and observed the attack on students. Expressing concern for students’ safety, the student emphasised the gravity of the security breach.
“FTII students had organised discussions and screenings on their campus as part of their academic commitment. That intruders were allowed to attack the students is inexcusable,” the open letter said, adding that the inaction of the police in investigating and taking action against those responsible for the violence was even “more inexcusable.”
“We appeal to the police and all relevant authorities to take prompt action against those who perpetrated violence against the students and who entered with the intent to vandalise property on the campus of FTII, Pune. We hold the institute in great affection and regard, and owe to it the rigorous training that turned us into film professionals,” it added.
The police has registered an FIR against five students under IPC sections 153B (1) (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs). The students were granted anticipatory bail by the sessions court.
An FIR (first information report) was registered against unidentified persons at Deccan police station under IPC sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 427 (mischief causing damage) and other relevant provisions.