Calling the last 60 days a nightmare for Fatima Nafees and her family would be an understatement. Ever since JNU student Najeeb Ahmad went missing on October 15, his mother doesn’t remember a single day when she hasn’t cried. She has participated in every single protest meeting held for her son, met countless leaders from all sides of the political spectrum and even had brush-ins with the police. Her savings have been exhausted. Her daughter, who was in class 12, has had to drop out of school.
There has been no word from Najeeb in all this time. As murmurs of disappearance turn into rumors of death in conversations around her, Nafees’s faith remains unshakeable. Her son is alive and will come back one day. “Mera beta milega (my son will be found),” she says resolutely, discarding any doubt.
The belief is what has impelled the 45-year-old from Badaun to stay on in Delhi, attend Court hearings and protests, and continue fighting against a hostile government system that has little empathy for her situation. It is also what has made her very angry – particularly with the police, university administration and the country’s political setup.
“We have lodged all possible complaints, met everybody there was to meet, yet the situation today is exactly how it was on October 15. Agar police ne aur university ne us waqt kaam kar lia hota, toh shayad aaj ye situation hoti hi nai (If the police and university had acted at that time, perhaps, we wouldn’t have been in this situation) But nobody listened to us,” she says.
December 14 marks 60 days since the first year MSc student went missing from the JNU campus, but no breakthrough has been made in the case. The family has met Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, but Najeeb remains untraceable. As a last resort, the family moved the Delhi High Court early last month for information on the police search on Najeeb. The Court has strongly rebuked Delhi police for its inability to trace Najeeb.
“This is the heart of India, the national capital. No one can just disappear from here. It creates a sense of insecurity in people. If he disappeared, then there is something more to that. All angles have to be explored. Forty five days is a long period for someone to be underground,” the Court had stated.
What has angered the family even more is the proctorial inquiry report released by JNU that literally lets off students by transferring their hostel. “There were witnesses who saw what happened, how students who were staying illegally in the hostel and some from ABVP hit my brother. But there are no names in the report. It just talks about transferring hostels of those found guilty without naming anyone,” Mujeeb Ahmad, Najeeb’s brother, tells YKA.
The police’s inaction as well as the University’s report has convinced the family that the Central Government will not let a fair inquiry happen in the case in order to protect the interests of the ABVP.
It has also convinced them that the university is not safe, at least for students from a minor community. “Today it is Najeeb, tomorrow it could be someone else. This university may have a name, but if our children can’t study safely inside it, what’s the point?,” Nafees questions.
Somedays, she misses her son more than others. On those days, she always has a phone handy, ready to answer every call that comes. “One of these days, he will be on the other side of the line. I will talk to him and then we will go home and away from JNU,” she says, her voice breaking.
Until that happens, she is bent on waiting.