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Labour trouble shuts down national film institute
Kolkata, April 3 The government-run Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) here was shut down for an indefinite period Wednesday following a dispute between the authorities and the contract labourers backed by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
The ongoing dispute worsened Tuesday when the contract labourers engaged in India's second national film institute used force to stop a newly-recruited security agency from taking charge.
SRFTI director Swapan Mullick told IANS: "The contract period of the guards under GD Security agency ended on March 31. We were not satisfied with their service. So we replaced them with guards from Star Security and Detective Service.
"But the new guards were not allowed to take charge. For the safety of the students we have decided to close the campus."
Mullick said the central government's Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had been informed.
"There are about 100 security guards who have been serving the institute over a decade. The authorities cannot drive them away like this. The contract must be renewed," CITU leader Samarendra Roy said. CITU is the trade union arm of West Bengal's ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).
On Tuesday evening, the authorities asked for policemen to be posted at the campus.
Superintendent of Police (South 24 Parganas) Praveen Kumar told IANS: "The police will remain at the campus till the reopening of the institute is finalised."
The students are the worst affected by the closure.
Sumanta Paul, a first-year student of film direction, said: "All our projects are stuck and if the institute takes long to reopen then our career is doomed as well."
SRFTI, named after film maestro Satyajit Ray, opened in 1995 as an autonomous academic institution under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The institute offers postgraduate diploma courses in film and television and is the second national film institute, after Pune.
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