Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the cases against filmmaker Payal Kapadia and Film and Television Institute of India students for protesting the appointment of the institute’s chairperson in 2015.

This came after Kapadia, on Saturday, became the first Indian director to win the Grand Prix, the second-most prestigious award after the Palme d’Or, at the Cannes Film Festival. She won the honour for her debut feature All We Imagine As Light.

Modi had congratulated Kapadia for the achievement on Sunday.

“An alumnus of FTII, her remarkable talent continues to shine on the global stage, giving a glimpse of the rich creativity in India,” Modi had said in a social media post. “This prestigious accolade not only honours her exceptional skills but also inspires a new generation of Indian filmmakers.”

Responding to Modi’s social media post, the Congress MP said in a tweet: “Modi ji, if India is proud of her, should your government not immediately withdraw the cases against her and fellow FTII students protesting against your government’s arbitrary appointment of an unqualified chairman?”

Kapadia was among the Film and Television Institute of India students who protested against the appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan as the institute’s chairperson in 2015. The students had demanded the removal of Chauhan, who is a Hindi film actor and a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for lacking the qualifications to lead the institution.

The institute operates under the Union government's information and broadcasting ministry.

At the time, several students, including Kapadia, were booked by the Pune Police under charges pertaining to unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation and rioting. The institute’s administration had cut off scholarships and debarred eight protesting students, including Kapadia, from participating in a foreign exchange programme that would help them participate in international film festivals.

Sound designer Resul Pookutty also demanded on Sunday that the case against Kapadia be withdrawn.

“FTII must now withdraw the cases against Payal and the other students,” the Oscar-winning artist said in another Instagram post. “It owes them the prestige that has been bestowed upon it.”

In another social media post, Pookutty said that Kapadia, accused number 25 in the case, had to appear before a court for the hearing in the matter after she returns from Cannes.

Also read: Payal Kapadia’s Cannes Grand Prix shows why free expression is vital for FTII and other institutions