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A month on, no trace of Najeeb

Protest in JNU

By Pheroze L. Vincent
  • Published 16.11.16
JNU students march on the campus

New Delhi, Nov. 15: Over 350 students of several states marched with the mother of a missing fresher in JNU, despite the university's advice no to hold such a gathering.

Fresher Najeeb Ahmed was reported missing on October 15 after an incident of violence on campus involving activists of the RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) during a hostel election campaign.

No student has been punished for the incident. Notices have been sent to some students by university chief proctor A.P. Dimri.

A police special investigation team, which questioned nine ABVP members, handed the case over to the crime branch last weekend as it could not find the boy.

Yesterday, vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar and registrar Pramod Kumar issued the notice prohibiting the gathering. It said: "In this call, a large number of outsiders are anticipated to participate which may create unrest and a security threat inside campus. Hence, JNUSU is advised not to hold the gathering."

At the protest by the JNU students' union today, addressed by AAP and CPI legislators from Delhi and Kerala, Najeeb's mother Fatima Nafees cried out for her son. "I have no words. Please stay with me. You are my strength. I will thank you when he returns. Don't leave me."

Last week, after a bag with a pistol and cartridges was found abandoned at JNU's North Gate, the university administration issued a release that said: "The presence of weapons inside the campus raises a grave concern about the safety and security of all residents.... Despite repeated appeals by the JNU administration, protest and public meetings, sit-ins, hunger strike, etc have been organised by certain sections of JNU community and outsiders have been invited to be a part of such demonstrations."

An ABVP leader, Saurabh Sharma, had written to VC Kumar, hinting that the pistol was brought by students of the Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi.

The turnout was smaller than expected as many did not make it for want of cash because of demonetisation.

"Students from Aligarh Muslim University were planning to come in three buses. But they couldn't pay the bus owner," said JNU students' union president Mohit Pandey.

Several students from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh however, turned up. "We realised that if we don't stand up against this, then tomorrow we could end up like Najeeb. There is a conspiracy by the BJP to polarize voters before the elections. They are campaigning to turn Hindu voters towards them saying that secular parties only worry because it is a Muslim boy. But seeing his mother dragged by the police, every sensible student knows that something is wrong in Delhi," said Babul Singh, convener of the Chhatra Yuva Adhikar Manch which is a students' outfit in Uttar Pradesh.

Youngsters outside the usual pool of student cadre also turned up. Sushmita Sinha and Shahbaz Ansar from Patna, who are preparing for competitive exams, came and drew a poster demanding the arrest of ABVP members.

"In our coaching institute, students talk about this. There is considerable fear. Friends tell me not to post anything on Facebook or you will be in trouble. But someone has to take a stand," said Shahbaz.

ABVP leader Sharma said he would complain to the administration tomorrow, that outsiders misbehaved with women on campus. An ABVP supporter accused of assaulting Najeeb has complained to the police that Fatima threatened him, during a visit to the hostel with her lawyer PS Sharda. "The crowd was mainly of outsiders as students are not supporting this... Outsiders are now a matter of concern, in these circumstances, for the JNU community."