Protest at Jantar Mantar, Where is Najeeb? October 15, 2018, Two Years After his Disappearance
Monday October 15, was a sombre day in New Delhi as three mothers got together to demand justice for their sons. While Fatima Nafees was demanding answers about the whereabouts of her son who went missing exactly two years ago from his hostel room in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Radhika Vemula and Shahira knew for a fact that their sons would never come back to them.
Radhika’s son Rohith was a PhD student at the University of Hyderabad and committed suicide in January 2016, an action called ‘institutional murder’ by the burgeoning student movement that emerged after his death. Rohith was a student activist and a member of the Ambedkar Student’s Association. Following his vocal outpouring at a protest against the hanging of Yakub Memon, prime accused in the 1993 bomb blast case, members of a right wing student’s association labeled him as ‘anti-national’. In fact, members of the same group also allegedly physically assaulted him so badly that he required surgery.
Rohith was also suspended and barred from the hostel. The University also reportedly stopped paying his monthly fellowship. For 13 days before he took this step, the students barred from their hostel rooms were sleeping within the University premises in a makeshift Dalit Veliwada (the segregated space for Dalits in Indian villages). Rohith’s suicide was his last recourse after suffering months of bullying, harassment, physical violence and mental torture at the hands of University authorities as well as the said student’s union. A month before he died an eloquent letter to the VC sarcastically said that every Dalit student should be given a bottle of poison and a hangman’s noose when he or she is admitted. This document is a scathing indictment of the racial, caste bias that is still a reality of Indian campus life, 70 years after Independence.
Meanwhile, Shahira’s son Junaid was murdered in full public view because of a dispute about train seats. He was just 16, and was on his way back from a shopping trip for Eid. While there were many witnesses, and the prime accused Naresh had even confessed, the case appears to be in limbo with all accused being granted bail in the case. Shahira was seen addressing the protesters at Jantar Mantar.
On Monday, nearly 500 people including students, activists and civil society members joined the mothers in Delhi demanding justice for Najeeb, Rohith and Junaid. They marched from Mandi House to Parliament Street.
Grief and Loss, Najeeb’s Parents
Support Through protestors
Fatima Nafees, Najeeb’s Mother
Mother of Junaid, lynched in 2017 (June) speaks at the protest against two years of
JNUTA STATEMENT IN SOLIDARITY WITH MOTHER OF NAJEEB AHMAD
Two years have passed since the disappearance of Najeeb Ahmad from JNU camps. He was last seen on 15 October 2016 after he had been assaulted the previous night in the Mahi-Mandvi hostel. In these two years the investigative agencies have failed to find a single clue as to his whereabouts and CBI has now moved to file a closure report on its investigation.
As Najeeb’s mother Fatima Nafees lurches between hope and grief, she has also found the strength and energy to lend support to the struggles of the mothers of Rohith Vemula and Junaid Khan. JNUTA salutes her spirit and we note with dismay that the central and state governments, and university administrations, who ought to have acted more efficiently and empathetically to ensure the young persons’ security and well-being have failed to respond to concerns of the mothers.
In Najeeb’s case, instead of taking responsibility JNU administration has adopted a callous approach, resulting in the failure to pin responsibility for the fateful events of 14th and 15th October 2016. JNUTA condemns the cold treatment meted out to Najeeb’s mother by Vice-Chancellor, and would like to remind him of care that is expected of him in his role as the guardian of students on campus. The disappearance of a student from the campus will remain a grim reminder of the many dark failures of the current JNU administration and its devastating treatment of the university students and teachers.
JNUTA expresses concern for Fatima Nafees’s health and deep dismay over the lackadaisical and facile efforts of the university administration to find Najeeb. We demand a conscientious response from the competent authority that they write to the Ministry of Home Affairs to urgently institute a credible investigation to ascertain Najeeb Ahmad’s whereabouts and to ensure that justice is served.
Sonajharia Minz, President, Sudhir K Suthar, Secretary