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'Right Wing Mob Hit & Abused Us': FTII Students on Babri Masjid Poster Ruckus

The right-wing cadres tore and burnt down a banner that said 'Remember Babri: Death of Constitution.'

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A day after the Ram temple consecration ceremony took place, members of a right-wing group forcibly entered the campus of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), tore down banners and allegedly assaulted students all while chanting "Jai Shri Ram" and "Har Har Mahadev" on Tuesday, 23 January.

The FTII students that The Quint spoke to said that they are "shaken" and that they were simply "exercising their right" on the campus.

One of the students who is part of their student body said, "Around 20-25 men just barged in the campus, the security was not able to stop them. They started vandalising college property, tore and burnt down the Babri Masjid banner and destroyed the photo exhibition we put up and started hitting the students."

"The (student body) president was thrashed so badly that they would've killed him if they weren't stopped. Students are worried. If in the presence of police, this can happen then whom do we even rely on? It feels very unsafe for all of us."
FTII Student (wishes to be anonymous) to The Quint
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'Remember Babri...'

The right-wing cadres tore and burnt down a banner that said 'Remember Babri: Death of Constitution.'

'Remember Babri: Death of Constitution' was written on the banner.

(Photo: Acquired by The Quint)

The students had put up a banner that read, "Remember Babri, Death of Constitution. FTII Students' Association' and organised a photo exhibition as well which were torn and burnt down.

Worth noting is that two FIRs have been filed at Deccan police station. One by the right-wing members and one by the college's security guard on behalf of the administration.

In the former, the complainant, Rituja Atul Mane, President of Hindu Bandhav Samajik Sansthan has added another line, 'Ram Mandir Temple of Shame' which the students have denied.
The right-wing cadres tore and burnt down a banner that said 'Remember Babri: Death of Constitution.'

Screenshot of the FIR.

(Photo: The Quint)

In the press release by the student's body which narrated in detail as to how badly the president and the General secretary were thrashed, they also added:

"As the police arrived at the Wisdom tree, the mob started disengaging and the security guards took them back to the main gate. There was no action by the police after seeing the ongoing assault and the culprits were free to go."

  • Press release by FTII's student body.

    (Photo: officialftiisa/Instagram)

'Abused Women, Damaged Exhibition'

In the video accessed by The Quint, one the main culprits can be heard saying in Marathi that they were objecting to the Babri Masjid banner because of what was written on them along with the photo of the mosque on one side. They could also be heard saying that "college is a place that follows secularism so who gave you the right to put something which is religious?".

The right-wing cadres tore and burnt down a banner that said 'Remember Babri: Death of Constitution.'

The Hindutva cadres who entered the campus and shouted at the students.

(Photo: Screenshot from the video)

And then they chanted slogans and beat up the students. Among them was a female student as well who sustained "considerable injuries."

"I can't even say the words they used when the abused the women on the campus when they tried to intervene," an FTII student told The Quint.

The student added, "The police came very late and they didn't really do anything to help us or stop it. Most of them were just on-lookers."
The right-wing cadres tore and burnt down a banner that said 'Remember Babri: Death of Constitution.'

Many men can be seen thrashing the students while police is unable to stop them.

(Photo: Screenshot from the video)

The right-wing cadres tore and burnt down a banner that said 'Remember Babri: Death of Constitution.'

The men also tore down and damaged the photo exhibition put in memories of Babri Masjid and its demolition.

(Photo: Screenshot from the video)

On the day of the Ram temple consecration, the student body had also organised a screening of the noted documentary by 'Raam Ke Naam' by filmmaker Anand Patwardhan.

The students stated that they were alert on the day lest any sort of external intervention happened. But it was the second day, when the ruckus happened.

The right-wing cadres tore and burnt down a banner that said 'Remember Babri: Death of Constitution.'

Screening of 'Ram Ke Naam' held by the student body.

(Photo: officialftiisa/Instagram)

The Charges in the FIR

The FIR filed against the students includes sections 153-B (1) (c) and 295 (a) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), both relating to assertion that their acts could cause disharmony or enmity and that outrage religious feelings.

Mane's party is not directly linked to ABVP but subscribes to Hindutva.

The FIR stated that Mane informed the men about the banner and exhibition after which they came to object and demand the administration to take action. They allege that the students stopped them.

So Mane went and informed the other right-wing cadres and so they came into FTII and demanded the college administration to take action.

Meanwhile, Deputy commissioner of police Sandeep Singh Gill stated that the Sanghatana members had claimed to know about posters and banners from a social media site and "this had hurt their sentiments," reported The Times of India.

Another FTII student told The Quint that out of the seven students the FIR has been filed against, two are "fake names" of students who don't exist. These names are: Nathan Chakrapadhyay and Manakalan Chakravarty.
  • The police was seen watching as the events unfolded.

    (Photo: Screenshot from the video)

The right-wing cadres tore and burnt down a banner that said 'Remember Babri: Death of Constitution.'

Two names in the FIR don't exist, the students said.

(Photo: Screenshot from the FIR)

The college administration's FIR has been registered under IPC sections 147 (rioting), 148 (punishment for rioting) among other sections against 15 people.

As media reports came out that three men of the right-wing group were detained and are in police custody. The Quint has learnt that the men have been released.

"We have beefed up security at the main gate of the campus and have created a fixed point to ensure no recurrence of such an act," Pune Commissioner of police Ritesh Kumar told The Times of India.

'Media Twisting Narrative, Not a Clash': FTII Student

The students said that the another reason why they sent out a press release was because they felt there was a lot of 'misinformation' around the incident where facts had been twisted.

"We had our classes and then this incident happened in the break when they barged in and created ruckus. However, the narrative that is going out in the media is that it was a 'clash.' This is not true," said an FTII student.
"If upholding secular values and expressing dissent against their erasure is considered objectionable and worthy of violence to these assailants, we feel strongly that everyone should be alerted of the dire straits we are in and the kind of terror that surrounds us today," the students wrote in an updated press release.

Another student said they reached out to several media portals to retract or rectify how the situation was reported.

"Some of the portals took the information and misinterpreted what was written on the banner or stated that there were less students which is false," she said.

Now, the students have the following demands:

  • An official statement from the administration because "there are attempts to dilute the matter," they said.

  • Asking accountability of the security and the police as to their alleged inaction during the violence.

The students have gathered at the campus, refusing to move forward till some action is taken. As the boys and girls hostels are both next to the campus, they are worried about their safety.

"In the meantime, we are also having talks with the administration and figuring out how to deal with the situation while ensuring the safety of the students because we cannot let this go unnoticed," remarked a student.

(The Quint also reached out to the police and college administration. Their response will be added once received)

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