Monday, 30th October 2017

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Muscle on mother

Accused of dragging feet on missing JNU student, cops target protest

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 7.11.16
  •  

New Delhi, Nov. 6: Fatima Nafees, the mother of JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, was today dragged, bundled into a police bus and driven to a police station over 16km away as Delhi police cracked down on a protest near India Gate.

The issue has now reached the President with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal saying that Pranab Mukherjee has assured him that Najeeb's case would be taken up with Delhi police as well as JNU.

Fatima had headed to India Gate to participate in a protest by students from JNU and other universities against police tardiness in tracing Najeeb, missing since October 15 after a clash in the hostel with supporters of Sangh student arm ABVP.

Najeeb’s mother Fatima being dragged to a police bus. Picture by Prem Singh

The police have been accused of dragging their feet in tracing Najeeb. It took the police over 20 days to question those involved in the brawl.

Today, the police drew a dragnet around the protest site before the participants could reach India Gate, sweeping up Najeeb's mother and cousin Sadaf Musharraf, hundreds of students, a bus driver and a group of boys who said they were not part of the protest and were passing by. The operation lasted from 3.45pm till about 4.30pm.

Fatima, running from pillar to post in search of her son since she arrived in Delhi from Badaun in Uttar Pradesh on

October 15, wept inconsolably inside the police vehicle, prompting a woman officer to try to console her.

The mother was eventually taken to Mayapuri police station, more than 16km from the National Archives from where she had been picked up, while the students and Sadaf were detained at Mandir Marg police station, 5km from India Gate.

Delhi police said they had picked up the protesters because Section 144, which prohibits gatherings of more than four people, had been imposed around India Gate in view of Chhath Puja.

The police's alacrity today contrasted sharply with their inaction when lawyers beat up students and reporters at a court complex a few months ago.

Chief minister Kejriwal arrived at Mayapuri police station after learning of Fatima's arrest, but by then the police had released her and taken her to Sadaf's home. The students and Sadaf were released around 8pm.

Sadaf, a teacher, had earlier been heard screaming from inside the police van: "I was just standing and the police shoved me."

Sometime later, she said: "I'm not in a position to say anything.... These people, instead of looking for my brother, are putting us in jail. I'm in Mandir Marg police station right now."

She added: "The way the policemen were talking to me was uncivilised. Is that how you talk to a woman? They dragged me and put me on the bus. I've hurt myself in the leg and the shoulder. The protest never started. They have turned Delhi into a quila (fortress)."

Mohit Pandey, the JNU students' union president, said: "The police have detained us, beaten us and broken our mobile phones. Many protesters have been detained and are being taken to different locations. The police are openly threatening to shoot us. They are saying, 'You people are hiding Najeeb'. This is the seriousness of the Delhi police."

Approaching President Mukherjee, Kejriwal questioned the sincerity of the Delhi police, who report to the Union home ministry.

The chief minister said the general opinion was that the investigation was moving slowly because of the involvement of ABVP.

"The recent chain of events is detrimental to the day-to-day functioning of JNU. I request you to urgently intervene in (your) capacity as the Visitor of this premier institution," Kejriwal's petition to Mukherjee said. "I request you to direct the central government to expedite the investigation process to find Najeeb."

Kejriwal later said: "People who were involved in the brawl with Najeeb were questioned by the police yesterday, 22 days after he went missing. That too was a formality. We have apprised the President of the matter. He has assured us that he will seek a report from Delhi police and JNU in this regard."

Students from several universities in Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh had joined the protest. Student leaders estimate that around 1,000 were detained at several police compounds in the city.

Delhi police sources said their officers had told the students in writing not to assemble near India Gate as prohibitory orders were in force there. The students were advised to assemble at Jantar Mantar. But when the students started assembling around India Gate in groups, the police stopped them and took them to various police stations.

The police denied that Fatima was manhandled. "Mrs Fatima Nafees was duly attended to by lady police officers and is now being dropped to her place of stay," the police said in the evening.