Nearly two months, no trace of student

December 7, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Jose Kalathil

It has been nearly two months since Najeeb Ahmed, a 27-year-old first year MSC student at the School of Biotechnology in the prestigious international Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi found missing from his Mahi-Mandvi hostel in the University campus, on October 15, after an alleged scuffle with three members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a student union affiliated to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the major partner in the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A pamphlet published by the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) said, “On 14/10/2016, around 11:30 pm, some three students went to the room of Najeeb Ahmed, MSc Biotechnology (first year), Room No 106, Mahi Hostel to campaign for hostel elections. At this time, there was an alleged scuffle which took place between Najeeb and others. Hearing noise and commotion, when the residents of Mahi reached Room no 106, they witnessed three students assaulting Najeeb. At this juncture, the residents seeing a group of students howling and coming towards Room No 106, for security concerns, locked Najeeb in his room.

The G4S security personnel have upon reaching the hostel opened the door. Despite the presence of security personnel, some 10-15 students brutally attacked Najeeb. After the attack, the residents again locked Najeeb in the washroom and blocked the entrance, waiting for the Hostel warden to reach. As the senior warden, Dr Sushil Kumar reached the place, they started moving to the Warden’s office in the ground floor. Despite the presence of the senior warden and G4S security Najeeb was criminally intimidated and communally targeted by the same group of students on the way to the warden’s office. The JNUSU President and other hostel residents who had come to stop the attack were also assaulted by the same 10-15 group of students.

In the Warden’s office, in front of the Senior Warden Dr Sushil Kumar, and the other wardens Dr Somyajit Ray and Dr Arun Srivastava, this group threatened Najeeb Ahmed for his life and limb. They repeatedly told the warden not to initiate any proceedings and leave Najeeb to them and then they would not spare him. They also hurled patriarchal and communal abuses at Najeeb in the presence of the wardens. Despite being present at the site all along the G4S did not collect any video evidence of the assault and the Warden failed to intervene to stop the assaulting students.

It is extremely disconcerting that from the morning after the attack, Najeeb Ahmed (has been) missing since 11:00 am, 15/10/2016. A complaint in this regard has been filed in the Vasant Kunj Police station by his family members.”

The university Proctor had assured the JNUSU of taking proper action, but according to students he has not taken any “concrete” steps. In a press release, the administration had referred Najeeb as the “accused”, said the union members.

Delhi Police registered a case under Section 365 of IPC (kidnapping with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine a person) and announced a reward of Rs 50,000 initially for any information about the student, which later raised to Rs 5 lakh.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also hit out at the Central government for “failing to act” against the ABVP members who allegedly attacked Najeeb. Kejriwal said the incident has sent out a “clear message” — that anyone who raises their voice against the “hooliganism” of the “right-wing forces” would “not be spared”.

Addressing hundreds of students on the JNU campus, he said that the Delhi Police “does not have the courage to conduct a fair inquiry” as they report to the central government and ABVP members are the accused in this case.

Politicians from several opposition parties, including Congress, CPM, CPI, JD(U), RJD and CPI(ML), addressed the students, who took out a protest against Najeeb’s disappearance, in which Najeeb’s family members too participated. CPM leader Prakash Karat said, “This campus has fought against the Emergency; it did not get cowed down and surrender. Now something worse than the Emergency is taking place. The Emergency was a one-off episode. But now there are continuous attempts to destroy the very ethos of the university.”

Attacking the JNU administration, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said, “Why has there been no serious investigation into the events of that night? There must be an independent investigation. The police and V-C have to answer why the campus was not searched immediately.” Earlier, the JNU administration had appealed to students and teachers to “discourage obstructive politics and protests on the campus”, alleging that it is hampering the smooth functioning of the university.

Meanwhile, JNUSU president Mohit Pandey took to Twitter requesting an appointment with Vice Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar to seek a status report on Najeeb’s case. “Since our VC is only active on Twitter, we are tweeting to seek an appointment with him,” he said.

JNUSU General Secretary Satarupa Chakraborty tweeted, “Dear VC @mamidala90, we are waiting for your reply as JNUSU seeks urgent appointment.”

Meanwhile, the JNU students were joined by the JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) during the human chain, that stretched roughly 2 km from the Administrative Block to the V-C’s residence, raising slogans such as “We want Najeeb.” Najeeb’s mother Fatima Nafees said, “Najeeb laado mujhe, mera bachcha laado mujhe (Bring back my child).” The union had earlier blockaded the administrative block for 20 hours, stopping senior officials from leaving the building.

In a series of tweets on the matter — 15 in about an hour — the JNU V-C said, “First these agitating students have tried to physically confine me in JNU Admin building. Now they are trying at my residence.”

Another tweet read, “Repeated appeals to cooperate and not agitate have fallen on deaf ears of student agitators. This is unfortunate.”

Fatima had also met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung demanding to trace Najeeb.

Meanwhile, a proctorial enquiry by JNU has found ABVP member Vikrant Kumar guilty of assaulting Najeeb Ahmed during a brawl following which the latter went missing over a month ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jose Kalathil

Jose Kalathil is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. With more than three decades of experience in different publications in India and Nepal, he is comfortable writing on any topic under the sun.

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