It has been more than three months into the FTII students’ strike. The stand-off between the Central Government and the students over the appointment of the FTII Chairman Gajendra Chauhan is far from reaching a resolution. Much like a dedicated student, they have tried everything- from protest marches in India’s de-facto protest space, at Jantar Mantar, to reaching out to their institute alumni and the President of the country- to get rid of their Chairman.
While the students continue to participate in an indefinite rally hunger strike at Pune, another group is once again in the national capital. It’s quite worrying how in the world’s largest democracy, people still need to sit, literally, under the nose of the government to get its attention.
On Tuesday or what was their 96th day of strike, the FTII students, joined by students from universities in Delhi, held a symbolic hunger strike at Shashtri Bhawan, that houses the Information and Broadcast Ministry. Given that the heavy deployment of state police at student protest sites has become more of a norm now, the video highlights how the state prefers to respond to student resistance. FTII students screamed, “sarkar hamse darti hai police ko aage karti hai” even as they were being pushed into buses.
The FTII students struggle shouldn’t be seen in isolation. College campuses across the country are going through a social-political flux. India’s urban youth can no longer be perceived as indifferent to the political milieu. From issues like rent control, repressive rules of women’s hostels, and unqualified management to academic reforms, students aren’t hesitant to offer resistance and ask questions- questions, that the government can’t squash with the fear of police.