Pune/Delhi, Oct 28: Striking FTII students today unilaterally called off their 139-day-old stir against appointment of BJP member and TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the prestigious institute but declared "peaceful" protests against him will continue.
While calling off the strike, the FTII Students Association (FSA) leaders minced no words in attacking the "right wing" leanings of the Centre.
"We are calling off the strike as a collective decision in the best interests of the students and returning to academics with immediate effect. But our protest will continue. We will take the battle forward," FTII Students Association representative Vikas Urs said in Pune.
The unilateral announcement came after repeated talks between the agitating students and Information & Broadcasting Ministry representatives failed to break the logjam, with both sides stubbornly refusing to budge from their conflicting position on the issue of removal of Chauhan, best known for playing the role of Yudhishthir in teleserial Mahabharata.
Soon after the announcement, Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore welcomed the step and said the ministry will continue to engage with the students on improving the conditions at the institute.
"I am glad that they are returning back to their classes. The discussions on how to improve this institute will continue," Rathore said in Delhi, reaffirming the government's commitment to making FTII an institution of national importance.
However, Urs declared in Pune that though the students have decided to call off the strike, there will not be any "proactive engagement" with the I&B Ministry.
"Although the FSA has decided to call off the strike, the students will not have any proactive engagement with the ministry until the appointments issue is resolved," he said, adding the I&B Ministry conveyed the impression during the failed talks that it had "no mandate" to take a decision in the matter.
Reflecting the continuing unease on the campus despite withdrawal of the stir, Urs said, "Now, it goes beyond the five appointments (of Chauhan and four FTII society members) which we had questioned."
"The right wing attitude is exposed and we know who is running the country," he said, apparently targeting BJP's ideological mentor RSS. "
Our protest has been peaceful so far and it will continue like that. He is not acceptable to us," another FSA respresentative Rakesh Shukla said when asked how will the students react to Chauhan taking charge, indicating it may take some time before normalcy returns to the campus.
Reacting to the development, Chauhan said he was "happy" about the students deciding to end the strike and that he was ready to work with them.
" We all will work together and move together", Chauhan said. "Discussion is the only way forward. I will wait for directions from I&B ministry (on what to do next)," he said.