By Saquib Salim:
It has been more than a month since Najeeb Ahmad, a postgraduate student from JNU went missing after an allegedly violent brawl with a few Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists. The political blame game is still on. However, an important point that is being missed by all the students’ organisations and political parties alike is the fact that it’s a question of a serious lapse of law and order.
This is supposedly the first time that a student has gone missing from the campus of a Central University. This happened in broad daylight, at around 11 am, at a University located in the National Capital. Where are we really headed to? This is not just about Najeeb. Has the law and order situation in the national capital come to such a point that a student is not safe within the premises of a premier educational institution? This issue should have united the Indian citizens in general and the students in particular in asking the tough questions to the lawmakers and its enforcers. Everybody irrespective of political affiliations would agree that Najeeb should return safely. There is no justification in denying someone their right to life.
However, what we have witnessed is fractured mobilisation asking for justice for Najeeb. The incumbent Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU), the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) tried to cash in on it. Hours before Najeeb went missing; he had reportedly fought with a few ABVP activists during which he was allegedly beaten and threatened. This made it a perfect ground for JNUSU to push the main opposition party – ABVP to the wall. Other political outfits who claim to be fighting against the ‘Hindutva’ forces also joined the bandwagon and started the movement ‘Bring Back Najeeb’ which talked a little about him and at length about the vicious plans of ABVP.
It pains me to see Najeeb’s wailing mother. Even more painful is the sight of him becoming a political issue. Political opportunism is at the peaks at a JNU which is considered a left bastion and has seen a growing presence of the right wing Hindutva outfit ABVP and is now witnessing the rise of the Students’ Islamic Organization (SIO). The SIO is the students’ wing of the Jamat-e-Islami, a Muslim right wing non-political organisation.
Jamat-e-Islami was banned alongside RSS in 1992 for fomenting communal hatred. Since, October 16, the SIO has claimed that Najeeb’s disappearance is a communal ploy by ABVP to physically threaten and push Muslims out of the educational institutions in the country, an allegation that was also adopted by JNUSU and other organisations.
The SIO has come out a clear winner, politically. It has brought the so-called left organisations of JNU to its knees and compelled them to toe their line. Ideally, left organisations do not believe in religious identities. Yet, in this case, the left led JNUSU sent a delegation to the Ministry of Minority Affairs hence reiterating SIO’s stand that this is primarily a Muslim issue rather than a students’ issue. SIO is not letting the opportunity go and has alleged JNUSU of not taking issues concerning the Muslims seriously. The allegations strike a cord with many Muslim students.
Identity politics has seen a recent rise in JNU. A two-year-old Birsa Ambedkar-Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) gave the AISA-SFI coalition a run for their money for the post of JNUSU president. BAPSA’s election campaign was anti-left, and it alleged communists for being Brahmanical. It questioned the left on the issues of caste and social justice and broke into its traditional vote bank. Left parties on the campus are aware and apprehensive of any such development among Muslim students after seeing such developments in Dalit and Adivasi students.
The JNUSU has called for a nationwide students march “CHALO JNU”, and in its pamphlet, an appeal has been made to various ‘National Level Students’ Organization’. The SIO has been mentioned among those organisations. It has finally arrived into the left-liberal political space of JNU. As this protest has a lot to do against ABVP, naturally its name is not mentioned.
If the JNUSU, the SIO and other organisations can be alleged of opportunism the ABVP, in this case, cannot be called anything but insensitive and immature. A student has gone missing. What one should expect is an outrage against the authorities for not being able to protect a fellow student, but they did the reverse. At every point, ABVP tried to praise authorities hence raising the suspicion of other students that it has something to do with Najeeb’s disappearance. Not only this, the ABVP praised police actions on Najeeb’s family who were protesting at the India Gate.
It should worry us that a student has gone missing from a premier institute in Delhi and not a trace has been found a month later.