JNU missing student case: Najeeb Ahmad’s disappearance raises questions on Delhi police’s ability

‘Missing’ is writ large at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus. A 27-year-old student Najeeb Ahmad has been missing for almost two months now, after an alleged scuffle with some other students. Mother, sister, friends and fellow students of Najeeb have been protesting at the JNU campus, at Jantar Mantar, Mandi House and anywhere they can.

In last two months, a number of posters of Najeeb has increased inside JNU campus and around Delhi and so has the reward to find him.

As the days passed, following Najeeb’s disappearance, a spree of allegations and counter-allegations was made by the Left and the Right in JNU campus against each other, following which, the police swung into action. Police teams were dispatched to Bihar and other places and news of Najeeb being spotted in Aligarh surfaced.

But among all this what was most intriguing was the manner in which Najeeb disappeared, like smoke.

Representational image. CNN News 18

Representational image. CNN News 18

Representational image. CNN News 18

Now a press release by JNU administration (issued on 8 December) has tried to put the record straight in the case: Of the alleged scuffle between the two groups in Mahi‐Mandovi hostel on 14 October after which Najeeb disappeared without informing anyone. Just two days to go and it will be a full two months since he disappeared.

The 8 December press release issued by the JNU administration is conclusive in its judgement about the incident. In an attempt to put the record straight, the JNU administration has shunned the logic. It reads, “The Office of the Chief Proctor has submitted its Proctorial Enquiry Report on the incident of Mahi‐Mandovi Hostel. The report has identified the students involved in the reported scuffle, and has recommended their immediate transfer from their present hostel. It has also recommended that a strong warning should be issued to these students against repeating such scuffle in future.”

It adds, “The Vice‐chancellor has approved the report and has suggested that after Najeeb Ahmed is found, the disciplinary action awarded by the Warden’s Committee for vacating hostel premises by Mr. Ahmed may be revisited.”

And it concludes, “The JNU Administration appeals to Mr. Najeeb Ahmed, M.Sc. student of Biotechnology, to return to university and resume academic pursuits without apprehensions.”

The Delhi High Court on 28 November, while listening the plea on Najeeb’s disappearance asked the Delhi police to “cut across all political barriers” to find Najeeb and said that there could be “something more” to his disappearance as no one can just vanish from the heart of the national capital.

The court further stated, “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.”

While the court’s observation was reflective of genuine concern, the straightness of the press statement issued by JNU administration on 8 December has twisted all the logic.

Consider this: In plain term, it states that those allegedly involved in the scuffle have been identified. And like the intimidating bullies we all face in schools, they were punished by changing their seats (read hostel).

Also, the JNU administration through its appeal to Najeeb to come back has decided and made it clear that he has gone missing on his own and steers clear of any foul play.

In this absurd play where a man disappears without any trace, there are many questions that remain unanswered.

A press note titled Summary & update of the Events ‐Mahi‐Mandovi Hostel issued by JNU, states that according to the warden’s report, the incident took place during the election campaign for members of the hostel committee. A student, Vikrant Kumar, went to canvass and when he knocked at the door of Najeeb Ahmed was slapped without any provocation in the presence of in presence of two other students. The warden has relied on the version of two people who accompanied Vikrant for canvassing. The warden’s report does not mention the testimony of any neutral eyewitness.

The second big question is that how JNU’s proctorial inquiry has assumed that Najeeb has been hiding or gone missing on his own, hence making an appeal to him to return.

The third big question that raises a major concern is that how can a student be in hiding for so long. How come the entire police administration (receiving direct direction from the home minister of the country) is unable to trace a 27-year-old student?

There is rising concern for Najeeb, that is now cutting across party and ideological lines. ABVP member Saurabh Sharma and former Joint Secretary of JNUSU too calls for looking “beyond narrow interests and making all efforts should be made towards finding Najeeb”.

“Almost two months have passed since a bizarre incident of slapping followed by Najeeb’s disappearance took place in JNU. SIT and then Crime Branch of Delhi Police have tried hard to find out Najeeb’s whereabouts, but all in vain. Given the situation that a student has disappeared right from the heart of the capital, questions must be raised about the efficacy of Delhi Police. A police force that has successfully busted organised crimes of international order in the past seems too helpless in this case. Is it really that tough to trace a student or is it a deliberate attempt on the part of Delhi Police to take it too lightly? The nature of politicking that has occurred in the periphery of the event also speaks volumes regarding the special nature of Najeeb’s disappearance,” says Sharma.

He adds, “Having said that, one must not forget that all that matters is a human life, the complexity of which is hard to fathom. Medical reports suggest that Najeeb was under depression and was receiving proper treatment. Thus, there is all possibility that he might have escaped for psychological reasons. If it’s so, still the police should have found him out by now. Hence, one must focus on the fact that between politics and concerns of individual life, Najeeb’s life and career is at stake. Let’s look beyond our narrow interests and channelise all efforts toward finding out Najeeb.”

As rightly pointed out by Sharma the inability of the Delhi police in tracing Najeeb raises serious questions on its ability and intent. The same press note mentioned above states that, “On 17th November 2016, the administration came to know about the police (Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime) investigation stating that they have traced the driver of the auto‐rickshaw who Ahmed hired on October 15 from Jawaharlal Nehru University to reach the campus of Jamia Millia Islamia, as reported in the newspapers.”

A month has now passed since police got this input but no breakthrough has been made in the case. Given the fact that police has been slammed by the court for its inability to find Najeeb, it is only in the former’s interest to find him. And its inability to find a 27-year-old student can be due to two reasons: Because of complete ineptness of police that cannot trace a student and a probability of some unfortunate incident that had struck Najeeb.

While the former can only be a matter of embarrassment for police, the possibility of the latter coming true can seriously change the narrative of the student politics in India’s one of the best universities.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 17:58 IST

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