The striking FTII students have expressed their willingness for talks to resolve the issue related to chairmanship of Gajendra Chauhan even as the government appeared to have laid down a pre-condition of ending the stir for the dialogue, according to sources in the student body.
The FTII Students' Association (FSA), which is leading the strike, said it has replied to the latest letter from the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry inviting it for a dialogue to break the impasse. FSA sources said that in the reply to the ministry's letter of September 22, the student body has expressed willingness for a dialogue.
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However, phrasing of the ministry's letter appeared to lay down a pre-condition for the proposed talks, which could be construed as the students being asked to call off their strike before discussions, the FSA sources said.
Sources said the ministry had in the letter on Tuesday suggested that the strike should be called off.
Meanwhile, as the strike at the premier institute entered its 104th day over the demand for Chauhan's removal, actress Pallavi Joshi turned up at the FTII campus to declare her support for the protesters. Joshi was the first person to resign from the FTII Society expressing solidarity with the students.
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Talking to reporters, she said the government should consider setting up a committee of entertainment industry members to mediate and end the deadlock as it was "sad" to see the students resorting to hunger strike on the campus.
She, however, asserted that Chauhan's appointment, which triggered the agitation, should be scrapped and there cannot be "two ways" about it.
FSA, meanwhile, refused to comment on the leaked content of the report submitted by the SM Khan Committee to I&B Ministry.
The report is said to blame the students and faculty for the delay in the 2008 batch assessment and justifies FTII Director Prashant Pathrabe's action in lodging a police complaint against the students who gheraoed him over the issue.
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The students had gheraoed Pathrabe in his office in mid- August demanding an explanation about the assessment of incomplete diploma film projects of the 2008 batch based on orders from the I&B Ministry.
Asked about the response of the students to the letter written to FSA President Harishankar Nachimuthu by Joint Secretary in I&B Ministry, KS Murthy, asking him to suggest a date for talks, Pathrabe said he was not aware of any reply sent by the association.