Najeeb Ahmad from JNU disappeared on October 15, 2016. Three years later on the same day, hundreds of people gathered at Jantar Mantar to ask the Home Ministry, “Where is Najeeb?”
Students from universities such as Jamia Millia Islamia, Ambedkar University, etc. came in large numbers.
Ahmad’s mother Fatima Nafees was joined by Shahista Parveen, widow of Tabrez Ansari, and Kavita Lankesh, sister of slain journalist Gauri Lankesh in the protest. In an effort to extend solidarity with these victims of violence and exploitation, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and author Arundhati Roy were also present.
Najeeb Ahmad was a regular student pursuing his MSc (Biotechnology) at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He allegedly fell into a disagreement and was beaten up by activists of RSS students’ wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), on the night of October 14. The next day he went missing, barely hours after he had spoken to his mother.
After the Delhi police failed to find any lead in the case, it was handed over to the CBI in May 2017. In October last year, the CBI closed the case. The people who had issued death threats to Najeeb and beaten him up roam free as the CBI states that its reason for the closure is that they “could not find any trace of an offense in the case.”
Sana, an English postgraduate student from JNU describes the incident as “horrifying” and blames the carelessness and ignorance of the government towards the basic rights of minorities in the country.
Arundhati Roy in her speech said, “…we will come to the time when the earth will not be the earth and the sky will not be the sky,” referring to the dejected state of the country. She claimed how Tabrez Ansari was “killed by the institutions of the country,” and warned about the growing fascism in India which has destroyed universities, economy, investigating agencies, judiciary, etc. and encouraged one to be “unafraid to assert one’s identity.”
Identity is very essential to one’s being but more important is, through whose eyes is one’s identity defined? Najeeb is described by all those who knew him as a quiet and studious person who was neither vocal nor political. But he was a Muslim, and that was his biggest fault.
The law is fair, they say. The law is, indeed, fair, but to those who are not a Najeeb or a Pehlu Khan or a Tabrez Ansari. In this world, freedom is not free and justice is not just. Lies remain embedded in the holes of the vast farcical net of democracy – they are seen but never questioned.
At the end of it all, a mother’s exhausting and tormented wail deafens the ear, “I just want my son back.”
“The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”
– Milan Kundera