300-plus FTII alumni condemn violence against students over Babri banner

The incident took place on Tuesday, a day after the grand consecration ceremony of the Ram Lalla idol in Ayodhya

Babri Masjid being demolished on 6 December 1992 (photo: National Herald archives)
Babri Masjid being demolished on 6 December 1992 (photo: National Herald archives)
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PTI

Over 300 FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) alumni have written an open letter in solidarity with the students of the premiere institute after an alleged attack on them by right-wing activists over a banner decrying 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," the letter said.

The incident at the Pune-based film institute occurred on Tuesday, 23 January, a day after the grand consecration ceremony of the Ram Lalla idol in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.

According to police, some 12 to 15 unidentified persons allegedly barged into the campus by overpowering security personnel, and assaulted students while shouting slogans. They also tore up and burned a banner put up by the FTII Students Association (FSA) which read: "Remember Babri, Death of Constitution".

The FSA has claimed that its president Mankap Nokwoham was among those attacked. The alumni group said they "unequivocally condemn" the violence perpetrated on the students of the film institute.

"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.

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, the police said.

The police has also registered an FIR against three 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).

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