3 from right-wing group held for attacking FTII students over Babri mosque banner

The students’ association had raised a banner and organised a photo exhibition and film screening on the Babri demolition.

WrittenBy:Shivnarayan Rajpurohit
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Three members of a right-wing group have been arrested for assaulting students on the campus of Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, police said on Tuesday.

Vipin Hasabnis, in-charge of the Deccan police station in Pune, said the three were from the lesser-known Hindu Jan Jagaran Sangathan. An FIR has been registered under IPC sections 147 (rioting), 148 (punishment for rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 452 (trespassing), 323 (punishment for causing hurt), 504 (provocation to break public peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 427 (mischief).

FTIISA, the students’ association of the institute, had raised a “Remember Babri – Death of Constitution” banner on the campus the previous day, when the Ram temple in Ayodhya was consecrated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They also held a photo exhibition on the Babri mosque demolition and screened Anand Patwardhan’s Ram ke Naam documentary on the politics behind the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

At least three students received minor injuries in the attack and were discharged, said Vipin Hasabnis. But students claimed that four sustained “grievous injuries”. These included Mankap Nokwoham, president of FTIISA; Sayantan Chakrabarty, general secretary; and a student of cinematography.

This is the second such incident involving FTII students and right-wing groups in three days.

Police inaction, claims student body

The incident took place when a group of about 25 people from right-wing groups entered the campus at 1.30 pm, according to a press statement released by the students’ association.

“As Mankap Nokwoham (president of FTIISA) was walking towards the main gate, the mob started chanting loudly. The mob charged at Mankap and the security guards failed to stop the mob. Mankap was violently attacked and brutally beaten; his T-shirt was torn in the assault. He sustained severe, multiple bruises,” read the press released by FTIISA.

A video shows the group bringing down the photo exhibition boards and burning down the banner amid chants of “Jai Shree Ram”.

FTIISA said even girl students were beaten up in the assault.

“Amidst all this, Sayantan (general secretary, FTII) questioned the security head about the ongoing assault. Later he was also beaten and violently attacked by the mob. While Sayantan was assaulted, many students, including a female student, tried to save him and were beaten up badly in the process,” read the statement by FTIISA.

FTIISA also alleged inaction by security guards and police. “There was no action taken by the police after seeing the ongoing assault and the culprits were free to go. Thereafter, the mob assembled outside the (Deccan) police station where the students were taken for their statements,” it said.

Sayantan told Newslaundry the mob had tailed the students and gheroaed the police station where they were taken to record their statements.

However, Inspector Hasabnis denied the allegation saying that they instead defused the situation by protecting students. 

The video of the incident shows the groups entering the campus without any effort and security guards rushing in to protect students during the assault.

The association said the assault was an “attack on the fundamental right to life of the students and a grave failure of law and order”.

A similar incident had taken place in the early hours of January 21, when a mob of 20 people gathered in front of the main gate of the campus and chanted ‘Jai Shree Ram’, claimed the FTIISA press release. “The security guards remained mum and took no action whatsoever (then). Later on being questioned about their inaction, they cleared the mob from the main gate. About half an hour post the incident, a mob of people started sloganeering ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and threatened the students wielding sticks and (said) that they will come back with a bigger mob. The Registrar and the Security Officer promised our safety.”

FTII director Sandeep Shahare and Pune DCP Sandeep Singh Gill did not respond to calls from Newslaundry. This report will be updated if a response is received.

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Update at 10 pm, Jan 23: The outfit was erroneously identified as the Hindu Jagaran Sangathan. This has been corrected.

Update at 10.17 pm, Jan 23: The name of a student has been withheld to protect her identity.


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