GFTI strike
GFTI strikeIBTimes/Neha Singh

The Bengaluru Police on Monday afternoon allegedly thrashed four of the 34 protesting students of the Government Film and Television Institute (GFTI) in Hesaraghatta. However, the Doddabelavangala police denied the allegations.

A group of students have been on strike since April 12 in protest against the college administration, which they allege have failed to provide basic facilities like camera and sound equipment, and "qualified" lecturers. The police arrived at the campus around 2 p.m. when the first year students were to take their semester exam, GFTI Students Council's President Agin R Basanth told International Business Times, India.

The police allegedly thrashed four students, including Basanth who is a third (final) year student, Sobin, Aron Adwin Antony and Aswin Josh. "Police thrashed us across our heads and necks, and dragged us. They treated us like criminals," Basanth said.

The students leader further alleged that police constable "Arjun, who was in civil uniform, began the assault." IBT made several attempts to contact Arjun, but could not reach him for his comment.

The police marched inside the campus and assaulted the protesting students outside the office of the head of department (HoD) of Cinematography, Ravi Kiran, Basanth told IBT. The professor witnessed the "assault," he added.

The police denied beating up the students and said: "Police went to the institute after receiving a message that some students were creating trouble on the campus and were not allowing students, who were not part of the strike, to take the exam," Doddabelavangala police official told IBT.

"Police were at the institute just to prevent any untoward incident as a group of students were on strike, demanding better equipment," the official said.

The institute conducted semester exam for the first year students on Monday. "Out of the total 24 first year students, 19 boycotted the exam on Monday," Basanth told IBT. The exam for final year students will be held on Tuesday, but six cinematography department students have decided to not take the test, he added.

A group of 34 students went on strike on April 12 claiming the institute was conducting semester exams without completing the syllabus. They have decided to boycott their exams until their demands are met.

Basanth told IBT in a series of emails that the equipment in the institute are either not functional or are in bad working condition since the last eight years.

"Now film cameras are not available and the updated syllabus has digital medium and a list of other equipment that should be available on the campus to complete the experience, but most of them are not available in the institute. Even computers that are in the lab are in bad working condition," Basanth had told IBT.

The students who are protesting have demanded that they be provided up-to-date equipment and experienced faculty members.

The GFTI was part of the SJ Occupational Institute, which was established in 1943 and is believed to be the first institute to offer technical education to film and sound students in South Asia. However, GFTI, which became a separate institution in 1996, has been offering two specialised courses — Cinematography, and Sound and Television — since then.