Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

FTII Students’ Hunger Strike Continues as Expulsion Controversy Escalates

A Dalit student has alleged discrimination and unfair treatment by FTII after expulsion despite providing medical documents.
FTII Students’ Hunger Strike Continues as Expulsion Controversy Escalates

Three students of Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) on hunger strike in Pune. Image Courtesy: PTI

Delhi: The hunger strike by four students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) entered its sixth day against the academic council’s decision to expel a student from the 2020 batch and deny him admission to the next batch. 

The FTII Students Association has been leading the strike, citing grievances related to the expulsion and inadequate attention to the mental health concerns of the affected student, as per news reports.

According to the FTII Students Association, five students from the 2020 batch were expelled without prior notice. However, following an emergency academic council meeting on May 1, four students were allowed to continue attending classes on the condition of completing specified remedial assignments and exercises within a set timeframe. However, one student could not meet the required criteria for repeating the second semester as a supernumerary student with the subsequent batch, resulting in his exclusion from the class.

The FTII Students Association argues that the student’s exclusion from the class deprives him of practical coordinated activities integral to film education, such as filming documentaries, dialogue, and final film projects. They claim that the administration has neglected the student’s long-standing mental health concerns despite repeated appeals. The association also voiced their dissatisfaction with the lack of communication efforts from the authorities, the Hindustan Times reported.

As the hunger strike persists, on Friday, one student was hospitalised due to a deterioration in his condition. However, according to the association, his health has now stabilised. 

In response to these allegations, Sayyed Rabbehashmi, the Registrar of FTII, refuted the claims of student expulsions from the 2020 batch. He said that five students lacked the necessary credits and attendance to be promoted to the next semester. Among these students, four were allowed to progress by completing additional assignments. However, the student who failed to earn credits, including the minimum required for the ATKC (Attendance Taken and Kept for Classes) and had a mere 30% attendance, was granted the opportunity to repeat the semester with the subsequent batch.

The student in question is Ayush Verma, who is also part of the protest. Verma, who belongs to a Dalit community from Rajasthan, claimed that he was failed by the institute due to insufficient attendance in his first year of the film diploma course. Despite providing medical documents for his ongoing psychiatric treatment, Verma alleges that the institute expelled him. 

He told The Wire that he initially hesitated to disclose his mental health status but eventually submitted the required medical proof. However, the institute deemed the documents inadequate. Verma claimed that with a medical leave certificate for seven days, his attendance would have met the requirement, and attending two optional courses would have increased his credits. However, the institute disregarded these factors. Verma also said that he faced discriminatory treatment, and his health was weak at the time of speaking to The Wire.

“Not only have they tried to lower my dignity, but also made it look like I am incapable of studying at this premier institute,” Verma told The Wire.

Rabbehashmi refuted allegations that the administration has not engaged with the students and claimed that multiple meetings had taken place with those from the 2020 batch and the students’ association, and two representatives from the association were also present during the Academic Council meeting. 

Speaking to the Hindustan Times, he said that FTII officials, including the Dean Films, the Registrar in Charge, and the Director, had engaged with batch members and the students’ group several times. Rabbehashmi criticised the tone and duration of some students’ reactions during the discussions, stating they were inappropriate. Reportedly, FTII officials have urged the students to end their strike and return to classes. 

Meanwhile, the students remain steadfast in their demand to promote a student with only 30% attendance and insufficient credits.

The FTII Students Association alleged that the institute had ignored their demands for another emergency academic council meeting to resolve the ongoing crisis and reinstate Ayush Verma, the expelled student, The Wire reported. Now, the FTII has announced the next academic council meeting for May 30, and it is expected to address the ongoing issues.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram