Najeeb Ahmad, a 27-year-old MSc student from School of Biotechnology, JNU, has been missing since October 15. This incident was preceded by a series of events starting with a scuffle between Najeeb and a group of ABVP members of Mahi-Mandavi hostel, in which Najeeb allegedly slapped Vikrant, a student from Centre of Russian Studies who was campaigning for the upcoming hostel elections. Reportedly, around 20 students and ex-students of JNU including Vikrant “hounded and brutally attacked” (JNUSU Pamphlet) Najeeb later in the night. JNUSU President Mohit Kumar Pandey said that he was attacked as well, along with Alimuddin, ex-President of Mahi-Mandavi Hostel, since they were trying to intervene to stop the violence and help Najeeb.
The wardens had called for a meeting in the middle of the night of October 14 and had named Najeeb as the accused. The committee, led by Chief warden Sushil Kumar, released a note that accused Najeeb of starting the fight. A section of students has questioned the legitimacy of the note, as well as its unbiasedness. Matin Ahmad of the Youth Forum for Discussions and Welfare Activities pointed out that the note “fails to mention the murderous attack on Najeeb.” Students present during the fight also said that the warden saw the students attacking Najeeb but did not attempt to stop the violence, or help Najeeb.
Warden’s report on the emergency meeting conducted on the night of the scuffle.
Najeeb’s roommate along with some other students took him to Safdarjung hospital late at night. He was last seen in his room at 11 am the following morning. All his belongings including his mobile phone and wallet are in his room. Najeeb’s mother and brother arrived in JNU on the same day and have been making rounds talking to the students, teachers, administration and the police. Najeeb’s mother had earlier said that he has been suffering from mental illness and depression. This was confirmed by Delhi Police yesterday.
On October 16, about 300 students had joined JNUSU’s call and blocked JNU’s North Gate, sending a message to the administration that the Union shall not entertain any delays on the part of the administration. On the other hand, a handful of Mahi-Mandavi students—mostly belonging to ABVP—had blocked the T-point against the “politicization of [the] matter” and against JNUSU for “defending Najeeb” (ABVP Pamphlet). A series of letters have been released by ABVP which claim that Najeeb stands at fault and that JNUSU is defending him.
JNUSU General Secretary Satarupa Chakrabarty said that they are protesting against the “biased press release” of the administration as well as for a faster probe by Delhi Police. On Monday, around 600 students marched from Ganga Dhaba, JNU to Vasant Kunj Police Station to demand a faster investigation and register an FIR against the students who had allegedly thrashed Najeeb. The students are also demanding that JNU Administration take stronger steps and intervene in the matter legally. JNU Teachers’ Union has called for a protest today to press upon University administration to ensure the safe return of Najeeb. The Union has also condemned the failure of the administration in “safeguarding the interests of the University and its members.” (JNUTA Release)
ACP, Delhi Police addressed the students late at 11:45 pm on October 17 thus: “Delhi Police will be in constant touch with the students and administration of JNU and Najeeb’s parents. We are trying our best and investigations are underway. We are sure of the fact that Najeeb had been taking anti-depressant pills for a long time. A student saw him leaving the campus on a three-wheeler on Sunday. We are trying to locate and find out more about the three-wheeler [vehicle] as well.”
The campus remains in a state of polarisation, and the students are mostly worried about the whereabouts of Najeeb. Mahi-Mandavi hostel elections have been postponed. Students and teachers have been circulating messages on social media in order to reach more people. Meanwhile, JNUSU has asked the students to remain vigilant, keep a check on the vitiating atmosphere of the campus, and avoid indulging in baseless rumours.
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