Najeeb Ahmed, a native of Badaun in Uttar Pradesh and an MSc (Biotechnology) student studying at Jawaharlal Nehru University went missing on 15th October, in the year 2016. What followed was not just a case of simple disappearance but a highly politically sensitive case compounded by a laxative investigation by the agencies.
What Happened on the Day of his Disappearance?
Najeeb was residing at JNU’s Mahi-Mandavi Hostel. A day before his disappearance he had an alleged scuffle with members from the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad or ABVP, the student wing of the RSS after they had allegedly knocked on his door seeking votes for hostel elections.
JNU Admin’s 25-point Bulletin
The JNU administration had released a 25-point bulletin on October 26, 11 days after Najeeb’s disappearance. The bulletin immediately unleashed a series of massive protests both inside the university and outside on the Nelson Mandela Marg, with JNUTA slamming the administration for “selectively omitting” the fact that Najeeb was assaulted night before his disappearance. The report stated, “Najeeb had slapped Vikrant (ABVP) without any provocation and the issue was resolved by the warden with some disciplinary measures as Najeeb had admitted his mistake of initiating the brawl”.
JNUTA in response issued a statement in which it highlighted how the report didn’t mention the beating of Najeeb by a group of students despite it being in the public domain and being mentioned by the warden in his statement as an eyewitness. “This selective omission of the fact by the admin could put serious questions on the objectivity of the enquiry process”, said JNUTA. However, a proctorial enquiry by the varsity found Vikrant Kumar, a member of ABVP, involved in assaulting Najeeb and termed it as an act of “indiscipline and misconduct”.
On 15th October, Najeeb’s mother, Fatima filed an FIR with the Delhi Police. The police led the investigation into the case but, it was unfruitful. The nine members of ABVP were subjected to interrogation and their phones were sent for forensic examinations, to yield no results. The case went from the police to the CBI after the High Court’s intervention, which came down heavily on the police asking how a person could just vanish from the heart of the national capital and also pointed out the “complete lack of interest” from the investigating agency’s end. The CBI too had expressed its displeasure at the Police’s probe.
In one of the submissions before the High Court, CBI said that the Police had forced an auto driver to give a false statement that the driver had driven Najeeb in his auto to Jamia Millia Islamia, implying that Najeeb had left the campus on his own will. The driver’s statement, hence, was recorded under duress by the Delhi Police, the CBI submitted in the High Court. The police even claimed that he was “emotionally disturbed” but when they couldn’t prove any connection between his mental health and his disappearance, they dropped this line of investigation.
However, In October 2018, the CBI too gave up on its investigation and filed a closure report in court, stating that it was unable to locate Najeeb despite concerted efforts and declaring him “untraced”.
The Family’s Struggle
The family, already facing the trauma of their son’s disappearance and endless trips to the courtrooms and police stations, had to face another major allegation; this time from the media. Several media networks carried out reports stating that Najeeb was an “ISIS sympathizer”. It was only after the family moved to the High Court that the media houses were ordered to retract those reports.
Najeeb’s family is still in hope of their son coming back home. In an interview with The Quint, his mother said “as a family, we all believe that Najeeb will be home soon. Hope is all we have. Since he went missing, Najeeb’s father is sleeping outside the room, closer to the gate most nights, just in case Najeeb knocks… That knock can’t go unanswered. Ummeed hai.”
His mother hasn’t called off her search for Najeeb. She has been at the helm of many political movements including the anti-CAA-NRC protests in the national capital and was also seen during the election campaign of former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, while he was running for a Lok Sabha seat from Begusarai in Bihar. In many interviews, she has also acknowledged her love towards students from JNU, Jamia and AMU, stating that these students are her strength and have always stood by her, since the time her son disappeared. “They call and ask Ammi, are you okay?”, she told the Quint.
Aditya Jha is a student pursuing Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Malaika M Khan