The Maharashtra Police on Wednesday booked seven students of the Film Television Institute of India in Pune for displaying a poster about the 1992 Babri mosque demolition on campus.

This came a day after a Hindutva mob barged into the campus, shouted slogans and set ablaze the banner, which said “Remember Babri, Death of Constitution”.

The men also allegedly attacked student union President Mankap Nokwoham, General Secretary Sayantan Chakrabarty and two others, including a female student, who had to be hospitalised.

However, a first information report was registered against the students at the Deccan Gymkhana Police Station on the basis of a complaint by Hindutva group Samast Hindu Bandhav Samajik Sanstha.

“The complainant stated that the act of the members of the students’ organisation was against national integration,” an unidentified police officer told The Times of India. “We have registered a case under sections 153B and 295A of the Indian Penal Code against the students and are investigating the same.”

The official said the police have booked the students under Section 153B (making imputations that are prejudicial to national integrity) and 295A (insulting religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code. However, they have not been detained.

“We will act in the case according to the court’s directives, considering that the charges are bailable in nature,” Senior Inspector Bipin Hasabnis of the police station told The Times of India.

The police had first detained six members of the Hindu Bandhav Samajik Sanstha, but they were later released, according to the newspaper. They were charged with criminal trespassing, unlawful assembly, rioting, mischief causing damage to property, intentional insult and criminal intimidation.

Meanwhile, the student’s association at the film school alleged that the police downplayed the attack and denounced the first information report against its students.

“The assailants got offended by our remembrance of the history of our country,” the association said in a statement. “We were reading texts that were secular in nature and trying to uphold the basic rights that are due to all citizens of our country.”

The statement added: “If upholding secular values and expressing dissent against their erasure is considered objectionable and worthy of violence to these assailants, we feel strongly that everyone should be alerted of the dire straits we are in, and the kind of terror that surrounds us today.”

The alumni of the Film Television Institute of India also criticised the attack in a statement on Thursday.

“That intruders were allowed to attack the students is inexcusable,” says the letter signed by more than 200 former students of the institute. “The inaction of the police in investigating and taking action against those responsible for the violence – clearly recorded on video – is even more inexcusable.”

The Babri mosque was demolished by Hindutva extremists on December 6, 1992, because they believed that it stood on the spot on which the deity Ram had been born. The incident had triggered communal riots across the country.

In November 2019, the Supreme Court held that the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992 was illegal but handed over the land to a trust for a Ram temple to be constructed. At the same time, it directed that a five-acre plot in Ayodhya be allotted to Muslims for a mosque to be constructed.

The Ram temple was inaugurated in a ceremony led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.