‘Where is Najeeb?’: Three years after JNU student’s disappearance, Jantar Mantar protest demands answers

The protest was led by his mother Fatima Nafees, Jharkhand lynching victim Tabrez Ansari’s widow and assassinated journalist Gauri Lankesh’s sister.

ByJaishree Kumar
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‘Where is Najeeb?’: Three years after JNU student’s disappearance, Jantar Mantar protest demands answers
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To mark three years of the disappearance of the Jawaharlal Nehru University student Najeeb Ahmed and return attention to the case, the campaign group United Against Hate organised a protest march at Jantar Mantar, Delhi on October 15.

The demonstration was led by Najeeb’s mother Fatima Nafees; Kavita Lankesh, sister of the assassinated journalist Gauri Lankesh; and Shaista Parveen, widow of Tabrez Ansari, who was lynched by a mob in Jharkhand earlier this year. 

Bahujan Samaj Party parliamentarian Danish Ali, the writer Arundhati Roy, Professors Apoorvanand and Nandita Narain, the lawyer Prashant Bhushan, and the scholar Umar Khalid expressed their solidarity by joining the march and addressing the protesters. Several student leaders from various universities expressed their views on stage as well. 

“The government has failed to ensure justice for Najeeb, Gauri Lankesh, Tabrez Ansari and Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh,” said Apoorvanand, who teaches at the University of Delhi. 

The protesters held up placards that read, “Where is Najeeb? Najeeb did not disappear. He was made to disappear.” They also shouted slogans against the government and the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the case. The organisations that participated in the protest included the All India Students’ Association, Students Federation of India, and the women’s collective Pinjra Tod. 

Similar protests were held at JNU and at the Faculty of Arts, Delhi University. 

“It’s been three years and the fact that investigative agencies have not made any progress shows that there have been no efforts to find him. The men who assaulted him the night before his disappearance were linked to the Bhartiya Janata Party-backed Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad. The CBI has failed to initiate the preliminary investigation into the case to protect them,” claimed Khalid.

 Roy said, “Tabrez’s attackers aren’t the only ones responsible for his death. The police and the courts involved are complicit too. There is no precedent in history where fascism wins. Lynchings, killings are symptoms of a dreaded disease and we’re living in a society that is very sick, and we have to find a cure for it.” 

‘I urge the police to put their guns down’

In the evening, Nafees addressed the gathering. “Those who claim to be loyal to the nation state are the ones selling it,” she said. “The youngsters here today have shown me that we can resist. I urge the police to put their guns down and join us. It’s unfair that we have the police barricading us here while a police officer’s [Subodh Kumar Singh] wife cries out for justice. I’m glad you all are here to support me. I hope this support continues in the future as well.”

Najeeb went missing from JNU on October 15, 2016, not long after he was reportedly assaulted by members of the ABVP. The Delhi police investigated the disappearance but got nowhere. The matter was then handed over to the CBI, which filed a closure report last year, again without making any substantial progress.

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