Pune: In a post-midnight swoop, police arrested five FTII students for rioting, illegal confinement and more after they 'gheraoed' director Prashant Pathrabe for nearly eight hours. The arrests triggered an avalanche of criticism, and the students got bail on Wednesday.
On Wednesday afternoon, the arrested students were produced before a magistrate and remanded to judicial custody till September 1. Later, their lawyers Asim Sarode and Shrikant Shivade moved the court and the students got bail on sureties of Rs.3,000 each.
Police have registered similar cases against at least another dozen students of the Film and Television Institute of India who have sought anticipatory bail.
A van load of baton wielding policemen landed at the picturesque and sprawling FTII campus just after midnight Tuesday and began looking for the 40 or so students who 'gheraoed' Pathrabe in his office on Monday.
Five students were nabbed and a hunt launched for the others who were believed to be hiding in and around the campus.
The students were among those protesting against "irrational and unjustified" pro-rata course project assessment of the 2008 batch of 49 students and wanted Pathrabe to revoke his decision.
On Wednesday, a shaken Pathrabe told the media that the students kept him in illegal confinement for 8-10 hours and vandalized his office, forcing him to lodge a police complaint.
"I really wonder by what yardstick you can call such people 'students'. They wanted to enact a drama. It was all pre-planned to show the institute and the director in poor light," he said.
A police officer accused the students of shouting slogans in Pathrabe's office, physically preventing him and others from leaving, snapping telephone lines and damaging computers.
The students also formed a human chain to stop Pathrabe from stepping out and shouted slogans like "PM Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley Murdabad".
Following Pathrabe's late night complaint, police registered a FIR against 15 students.
The crackdown capped a 72-day-old agitation in which students are opposing the appointment of BJP member and TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as FTII chairman.
The arrests evoked denunciation across the country.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi took on Prime Minister Modi, saying the students were not criminals.
"Silence, Suspend, Arrest: Modi Mantra for Achhe Din," Gandhi tweeted. "On one hand they destroyed creativity, and on the other hand, made money... Now this disease is spreading. FTII is a symbol of it," Gandhi said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also criticised the arrests.
The students alleged that the police action was meant to break their strike.
Commoners to celebs flayed the arrests, with many comparing it to the Emergency days when midnight arrests were common.
While brakes have been applied on the contentious assessment decision, a three-member committee from the information and broadcasting ministry will visit FTII on August 21 after which a final decision will be taken.
The students have shown no signs of being cowed down. They are likely to announce their future plans soon.