Where is Najeeb: The question that lingers even after a year

The protest that began on Friday is still going on with students demanding a status report from the CBI.

WrittenBy:Sahla Nechiyil
Article image

It’s been a year since Najeeb Ahmed, a 27-year-old student of  Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), went missing following an alleged scuffle with some ABVP activists on October 15, 2016. With the state machinery, including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), failing to find a significant lead in the case, Fatima Nafees, Ahmed’s mother, called for a protest outside the CBI headquarters on October 13.

The national capital has witnessed several protests ever since Ahmed went missing. All these protests have primarily centred around Nafees—a mother who has decided to fight for her missing son. At the protest site, the police personnel were not only deployed at the gates of the CBI building but were also prepared to resist further trouble. Several barricades were employed to redirect traffic as well.

imageby :

Protesters outside the CBI headquarters (Image credit: Prakriti Sharma)

Only a handful of ‘United Against Hate’ group members were seen at the venue at the scheduled time, 2 pm, whereas students from JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia and Delhi University reached the site at 3:30 pm, an hour and a half after. While the poor strength of protesters, as opposed to expectation, could be of relief to the police, it left several others disappointed.

imageby :

 Fatima Nafees talking to media (Image credit: Salim Shafi)

Even as the group began sloganeering, a scuffle broke out between the police and the protestors when a section of the gathering tried to break the barricades. Subsequently, the protestors settled down on the road with slogans such as ‘CBI murdabaad’, ‘CBI hosh mai aao’, ‘Najeeb ko doond ke lao’ ringing through the air. They were demanding a status report of Ahmed’s case from a CBI officer, at least at the DIG’s position. The group clarified that the protest would continue until the CBI brief them about the progress in Ahmed’s case.

imageby :

Protesters are trying to break the barricades (Image credit: Prakriti Sharma)

“I had great hope from CBI, but they have shattered all my expectations. But, they can’t escape from the responsibility to find out the whereabouts of my son. Until they do that, I will keep fighting,” Nafees told Newslaundry.

What has been done so far?

Ever since Ahmed’s case was registered with the police, serious lapses have been in the investigation process. The first lapse was on the part of the JNU administration, who did not allow the police to search the campus premises in the initial hours after Ahmed went missing, which could have helped recover evidences. The second was on the part of the Delhi Police, who sat on the case for almost seven months without any progress. On May 12, the Delhi High Court questioned the police and said that it appeared to be looking for an “escape route”.

Subsequently, a plea was filed by Ahmed’s mother, who was demanding a court-monitored independent inquiry. On May 16, the Delhi High Court transferred the case to the CBI. After a disappointing performance by the police, concrete results were expected from the CBI. However, nearly a month after the first hearing in July, the CBI submitted the same report on August 8 as well. The Delhi High Court had then rebuked the CBI stating:“The case was not transferred to the agency for fun.” The High Court also said that the CBI’s report was a “two-and-a-half page of scrap.”

In response to CBI’s apathetic attitude towards Ahmed’s case, Nafees, students from several colleges and activists protested outside the CBI headquarters on August 9, where they were promised that the case would be taken seriously. However, during the hearing on September 6, CBI asked for more time to reach in conclusions.

“We want the CBI to investigate the calls as well as WhatsApp messages of the accused,” said Mohit Pandey, former JNUSU president, referring to the complaint that was lodged by a section of students after Ahmed went missing. The complaint names 9 ABVP activists from JNU. However, neither the calls or message have been investigated so far. This is irrespective of that Court’s observation which stated that in case these messages are found to be deleted, “then that in itself is incriminating”.

Lack of accountability

Friday’s protest also brought up some uncomfortable questions from Ahmed’s family and the larger citizenry. Nadeem Khan, a social activist and someone who has been associated with Ahmed’s family said, “Najeeb is a JNU student and he went missing from the respective institution. The primary responsibility, therefore, lies with the JNU community,” Khan said, expressing his distress over the low student turnout.

Khan also expressed his disappointment over the absence of representation from the JNU faculty. “There are around 600 professors in JNU. Where are they? Not even one has turned up. This is not just a business of 50 JNU students, but each one of them are also accountable for what happened to Najeeb,” said Khan. Khan’s comments were followed by slogans of “JNUTA [JNU Teachers Association] murdabaad“.

Khan also urged that students should question each professor’s stance on Ahmed’s case inside the campus as well. He also asked why nobody from JNU attended Ahmed’s court hearings. “When all state machineries are utterly inactive in tracing Najeeb, the courtroom should be filled with JNU students and the judiciary should feel ashamed,” Khan said.

Sadaf Musharraf, Ahmed’s cousin, however, spoke in favor of JNU students. In her speech, she said, “The JNU students have been a constant source of support, else we would have lost the fight long ago.”

Apart from the questions raised above, the poor student turnout has raised some concerns. Have people started forgetting Najeeb, already? While public pressure can often push the state machineries into action, what will happen in this case?  In time, will Fatima Nafees have to fight the battle alone?


We take comments from subscribers only!  Subscribe now to post comments! 
Already a subscriber?  Login

You may also like