Note from JNU Students Union
“We have lost all faith in the university administration,” said Fatima, the mother of JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, who has been missing for 13 days.” (The Hindu, 28 October).
For years the JNU community has fought with blood and sweat to ensure that it remains an inclusive space for students across regions, caste, religion, gender and other disparities and pluralities. Today, as we the students of JNU struggle to revive the lost faith of a mother, a shattered dream of a student, for the incorrigible VC of JNU, this perhaps is another feather in his cap, another instance of ‘success’ for which he might be awaiting a pat from his masters!
It has been two weeks since Najeeb went missing from JNU campus. These two weeks have exposed, in addition to the police inaction, the partisan nature of the JNU administration and its continuous shielding of the perpetrators of violence against Najeeb Ahmed. The partisan nature of the JNU administration is not only ethically wrong; it is also blocking the possibility of justice for Najeeb or of his safe return.
This is the very same administration which, at the time of the 9th February incident – in which there were no victims – allowed for a campus-wide witch-hunt of Left activists, precipitated their arrests and even imposed heavy fines on them based on mere allegations made by Zee News and other pro-RSS corporate media channels. However, in the present case where there is an actual victim of violence – Najeeb Ahmed – the JNU administration is acting as a protective umbrella for the persons who assaulted Najeeb and openly threatened to kill him, before he went missing. At the time of the 9th February incident, the Mahi Mandvi hostel was raided, as the police was looking for the Student Union members. However, while Najeeb was being assaulted, the JNUSU President tried to call the police, but was stopped from doing so by the warden and others- saying that it was an “internal matter” of the hostel, even as they were failing to control the bloodthirsty group of right-wing zealots who assaulted Najeeb.
The JNU administration did not even allow a search of JNU campus areas, until the JNUSU blocked the road in front of Vasant Vihar police station and asked for the forest areas to be combed. The people who assaulted and threatened Najeeb Ahmed are not investigated and questioned as the JNU administration is shielding them. The statements issued by the University administration completely omit any mention of the assault on Najeeb, which has been acknowledged in another administrative document- the Mahi-Mandavi Wardens’ Committee report dated 16th Oct, 2016. This is not an innocent or simple omission. It is a criminal omission and the JNU VC and his team must also be questioned by the police. Their actions signal their effort to cover-up the crucial incidents that preceded Najeeb’s disappearance.
The scornful attitude of the JNU VC towards the family of Najeeb shows a tremendous bias which is unacceptable for the head of the institution. We would like to pose a few questions to the JNU VC who is trying to play ‘victim’ in the whole episode:
1. Why is the JNU administration not initiating an enquiry into the incident of violence against Najeeb by a group of identified students that preceded Najeeb’s disappearance? It is indeed surprising that an incident in which the Home Ministry has formed an SIT is not worthy of enquiry by the JNU administration!!
2. The Warden Committee Meeting held on 16th Oct at 9 pm, which is an official body, recognised the brutal assault unleashed against Najeeb on 14th night. Has the JNU administratioion taken cognisance of it?
3. Why are all statements issued by the JNU administration silent on the violent assault on Najeeb, in spite of independent witnesses to this violence, confirmed by the minutes of the 16th October Warden Committee meeting?
4. JNU administration, faced with facts stressed by students’ protests, had to withdraw the prefix ‘accused’ for Najeeb in a subsequent press release put up on the website. But why was the withdrawal of the term NOT acknowledged and announced clearly and loudly – in the same manner as the initial press release that had loudly declared Najeeb an ‘accused’?
5. Why has the administration not taken any action against those students who were involved in the violence even after the Warden Committee recommended the same? Forget action, why has the JNU administration not issued as much as a warning or restraint order against the assaulters?
6. Why in all these days, has the twitter savvy JNU VC failed to issue a single sensitive public appeal to Najeeb assuring him safety and justice?
7. Since the Warden Committee meeting recognised that outsiders too were involved in the violence, why did the JNU administration not report it to police immediately or even after the incident? Why has the JNU administration not initiated any enquiry into their presence? Why have they not been summoned for enquiry? Why has the JNU administration not made them out-of-bounds from the campus?
8. Why is no evidence being collected from the warden, who was present at the hostel on 14th night and who has also witnessed Najeeb being beaten up?
9. Why was medical aid or an ambulance not arranged by the university, and no attempt made to contact or inform Najeeb’s family after the incidents of 14th October night?
10. Why did the university administration not file a complaint as soon as it came to its notice that a student is missing in mysterious circumstances?
All these unambiguously prove JNU administration’s and JNU VC’s shocking apathy and abdication of all institutional responsibility towards a student who is missing following violence and threats on one hand; and on the other, their politically partisan bid to cover-up and shield the perpetrators of violence undermining even JNU’s own institutions and all norms of justice.
The Delhi Police has committed some severe lapses in the enquiry which may be irreparable, considering that the first few days are crucial for gathering vital clues:
1. The perpetrators of violence on Najeeb were not investigated or questioned.
2. The eyewitnesses are not being consulted, even after they have given their written statements to the police and the Proctor’s office both. Neither the JNU administration, nor the police is talking to them.
3. The police did not immediately conduct a search of the JNU campus with the help of sniffer dogs. When the JNUSU asked why the campus premises are not being searched, they were told that the University is not allowing such a search.
4. The vehicle entry record of JNU has not been examined even till date.
5. The CCTV footage of the metro station has not been obtained.
6. There was a considerable delay in communicating the missing person notice to the neighbouring states.
7. The posters announcing a reward for finding Najeeb have been pasted only inside JNU campus. Even the neighbouring police station- Vasant Vihar- does not have the missing persons notice for Najeeb.
8. The call logs, transcripts and message texts of the people who assaulted Najeeb have not been obtained. Any unusual activity or encrypted messages should have been investigated.
9. The role of JNU Administration in shielding those who attacked Najeeb and in delaying the search of the JNU forest area is not being investigated or questioned.
Overall, there seems to be a strong ABVP-Administration-Police nexus at work, rendered strong by the presence of a right-wing government at the Centre which is blocking justice in this case. Friends, a human life is at stake. Together, we have to ensure that the JNU administration and the police act, not as private agencies of the party in power, but as institutions bound by the rule-of-law and public accountability.
In this fight, we need every student of the campus to stand together to expose and defeat the saffron brigade network on the campus, which led to the disappearance of a young student and which is working overtime to subvert the process of justice for and safe return of Najeeb.