In light of the violence which took place at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune on Tuesday, seven members of a right-wing group have been arrested on the charges of assaulting students.
A group of men belonging to Hindutva outfit named Hindu Jan Jagaran Sangathan had barged into the campus and attacked the students over a banner put up by the FTII Students’ Association (FTIISA) on the institute premises, which said the Babri masjid demolition was against the Constitution.
Men were captured entering the campus in videos circulating on the social media, shouting slogans such as "Jai Shri Ram" and praising the 17th-century Maratha ruler Shivaji. Some individuals were observed burning a poster that read "Remember Babri, Death of Constitution," while others destroyed a board featuring event-related photos.
How did the violence unfold?
On Monday, FTIISA, the students’ association of the institute, had raised a “Remember Babri – Death of Constitution” banner in the campus when the Ram temple in Ayodhya was consecrated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They organised a photo exhibition depicting the demolition of the Babri mosque and screened Anand Patwardhan's documentary "Ram ke Naam," which delves into the political aspects behind the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
Narrating the series of events, a student from FTII told BOOM, "We had some readings and also an online discussion with the film maker that day. We were alert but nothing happened that day. However, on Tuesday, a mob of 20-25 agitated people bypassed the security, entered the campus around 1:30 P.M and started sloganeering."
The mob then charged at Mankap Nokwoham (President of FTIISA) and assaulted him. According to the press note released by the student association, the mob let loose and pulled down the banner that students had put up. "They started vandalising the installations and the property of FTII kept at the Wisdom Tree and burnt down the banner," it read.
According to the FTII student, even girl students were beaten up in the assault and hurled abuses at. "In total, four students were hurt and no major intervention had taken place until then. The student association then proceeded towards the Deccan Police station to file the FIR," they added.
Student body alleges police and security inaction
FTIISA alleged inaction by security guards and police. The press note read that there was no action taken by the security after seeing the ongoing assault and the culprits were free to go. Thereafter, the mob assembled outside the police station where the students were taken for recording their statements.
The FTII student told BOOM that while the students had to face delay in recording their statements, the mob had already gathered outside the station. "It seemed like information was being passed around to the mob regarding the whereabouts of the students. The students had to be locked in a small room inside the station, as the mob had reached even there."
The security forces prioritised aggressively stopping the students rather than the mob, the student alleged. "There was a high alert on inauguration day but the day when the violence ensued, we just saw mild intervention from the security."
What did the police say?
Speaking to BOOM, Vipin Hasabnis, in-charge of the Deccan police station in Pune denied the allegation of inaction. He said, "The violence started at 1:30 PM and we had registered the FIR by 6 in the evening, as soon as we received the complaint from FTII." There have been seven arrests made in the case till now.
He told that the mob was associated with the Hindu Jan Jagaran Sangathan and the 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).
Apart from this, a counter FIR has also been filed by the right-wing group against the students under Section 153 B (causing disharmony or feelings of enmity) and 295 A (outraging religious feelings). "The investigation in this matter is underway," said Hasabnis.