IFFI: Protest over former Catholic priest’s mysterious death

Panaji, Nov 21 (IANS) Action on the second day at the IFFI was not in film screening halls, but outside the premises, where 300 people took out a peaceful march protesting the ‘sloppy’ police probe into the mysterious death of a former Catholic priest.

All the protesters were arrested, even as police arrested one more FTII student for allegedly wearing a T-shirt bearing the institute’s name near the festival grounds.

On Saturday, the Film and Television Institute of India’s (FTII) two ex-students Kislay and Shubham, who were arrested on Friday for protesting at the IFFI inaugural event attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, were released on conditional bail.

The 300 protesters, including several dozen senior citizens and women and children, who were marching peacefully towards the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) venue in Panaji, were arrested.

The protesters included civil society activists, representatives of political parties as well as friends and family of activist and former priest Bismarque Dias, whose body was fished out of the Mandovi river on November 7.

The mysterious death of Dias — who was leading a string of agitations against controversial real estate projects across Goa — and the flip flops by police on the nature of his death had led to a series of protests and candlelight vigils across the state.

Jatin Naik, a protester, on Saturday questioned the police’s handling of the probe, and also questioned the decision of the ruling BJP-led coalition to impose the prohibitive section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code around the IFFI venue.

“Police must conduct a thorough probe. We have not seen a serious probe yet. What is the logic of imposing section 144 when a creative event is happening in the city?” asked Naik, before courting arrest.

In another development, three FTII ‘sympathisers’, including one student who was detained earlier on Saturday and two ex-students who were arrested for protesting at the venue on Friday, were released on bail.

Ashutosh, an FTII student, was picked up by Panaji police. He was wearing a T-shirt bearing his institute’s name.

“Police picked him up after he was wearing a T-shirt and hanging out on the IFFI campus legitimately, with a delegate pass. He was later released on bail,” Ashutosh’s lawyer Albertina Almeida told IANS.

A police spokesperson said Ashutosh’s detention was preventive in nature.

The two ex-students — Kislay and Shubham — had shouted slogans against the central government.

Earlier, Rajyavardhan Rathore, union minister of state for information and broadcasting, had expressed disappointment at the protests by the duo.

“Though it was a small protest, the students tried to tarnish India’s image on an international platform like this. It was not expected and I am disappointed by their actions,” Rathore said at a media briefing on the sidelines of Film Bazaar here.

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