By Amrita Singh:
Najeeb Ahmad, an All India Students’ Association (AISA) member and a first year student of MSc Biotechnology in Jawaharlal Nehru University, has been missing since the morning of October 15. He reportedly had a scuffle in his hostel room with members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) a night before his disappearance. The details of the incident are still ambiguous since Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, members of which were also present in the hostel at that time, and members of ABVP have two different versions as to what had happened. While JNUSU is accusing ABVP of communal violence, ABVP is accusing JNUSU of politicising the matter by giving it a communal colour.
On the night of October 14, ABVP members were holding a door-to-door campaign at the Mahi-Mandavi hostel of JNU for the mess committee elections. According to JNUSU’s statement, during this campaign, after an alleged scuffle between Najeeb and three ABVP members in the former’s room, a group of 10-15 supporters of ABVP came to the hostel and attacked Najeeb. He was allegedly “criminally intimidated, communally targeted and physically assaulted” by the same group in front of the G4S security and the hostel wardens. The students’ union has also stated that the “JNUSU President and other hostel residents who had come to stop the attack were also assaulted by the same 10-15 group of students… They repeatedly told the warden not to initiate any proceedings and leave Najeeb to them and then they would not spare him. They also hurled patriarchal and communal abuses at Najeeb in the presence of the wardens.”
ABVP has refuted these claims and alleged that it was Najeeb who started the fight by slapping their member. Ravi Ranjan Chaudhary, Delhi Joint Secretary of ABVP, has reportedly said, “Four of our members went to his room in Mahi hostel. One of them, Vikrant, had a red thread around his wrist. When Najeeb opened the door, he asked Vikrant why he was wearing the thread. He then slapped Vikrant without waiting for him to answer.” Saurabh Sharma, another member of the party and ex JNUSU Joint secretary said, “He even admitted to his mistake. In an emergency meeting held after the incident, he was expelled from the hostel and asked to vacate on or before October 21.” ABVP has also filed an FIR against Najeeb for assault.
Najeeb’s mother, who lives in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, claimed that he had called her around 2 a.m. on Saturday. She said, “He said nothing except that ‘Mere saath koi haadsa ho gaya hai, aap aa jaiye (There has been an incident, please come)’. I told him I would leave as soon as possible, but would not make it to Delhi before noon the next day… I spoke to him again Saturday at 11 a.m., from Anand Vihar Railway Station, and told him I was on the way, but when I reached the university around noon, he was gone. His mobile phone, wallet, everything was in the room. Now, I sit holding his mobile, hoping he will call me any minute.” Najeeb’s mother and local guardians have also alleged that they were not informed by the administration about him going missing. They have filed a complaint and a case has been registered at the Vasant Kunj north police station under Section 365 of the Indian Penal Code as it is believed that Najeeb has been kidnapped.
JNUSU hasn’t been on good terms with the administration, especially since the new VC was appointed. Since the past few days, it has also been protesting against the show cause notices issued by the administration to the students. In the protests that followed Najeeb’s disappearance, the Union has been accusing the administration of not taking timely and proper action. President JNUSU, Mohit K. Pandey, also expressed his discontentment over the meeting with the administration on the issue. In a Facebook post, he said, “We were completely disappointed in the meeting with the administration today. Instead of taking action against the ABVP goons the administration tried it’s best to shield them.”
As a response to these allegations, the administration has stated in a press release that it took ‘prompt action’ following the incident on October 14. Moreover, even though there isn’t any known proof or recording as to what happened that night and it is Najeeb who has gone missing, he is referred to as the accused in the press release. However, there’s no explanation as to why he has been branded as the accused and the press release sounds more defensive than reassuring to the students.
On the night of October 17, hundreds of students of JNU along with Najeeb’s family held a protest outside the Vasant Kunj Police station and signed a complaint letter demanding urgent action on part of the Delhi Police. The JNU Teachers’ Association also condemned the incident and termed it as a failure of the university administration in handling the matter. JNUSU has also announced a University strike on October 18 against the inaction by the JNU administration, asking them to ‘bring back Najeeb and ensure his safety’ and demanding punishment for ‘perpetrators of mob violence and communal hate mongering’.