Exactly four years ago on 15 October 2016, Najeeb Ahmed, disappeared from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), following a scuffle with students connected with a right-wing organisation.
Just two months before that, he had spent a week with his mother during his college break.
First, an extensive search operation was conducted where the police divided the JNU campus in 11 zones and deployed over 560 policemen divided into several teams to carry out a thorough search. Then, a series of search operations across the country was carried out by three different investigation agencies – the Delhi Police, its Crime Branch and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) – but there has been no trace of him till date.
The CBI had even announced a reward of ₹ 10 lakh for anyone with information about Najeeb Ahmed and informed police chiefs of all states.
In a video released a few days before, his mother said that she will continue her protest online against the Delhi Police.
“No arrests have been made so far. And those speaking in favour of Najeeb have been put in jails. This is the work of the Delhi police. They should be ashamed of abusing their power.”
She said she was confident that her son was alive and will return to her someday.
Why Did He Go Missing: The Many Versions
A first-year M.Sc. Biotechnology student at the central university, Ahmed went missing from his hostel room on 15 October 2016, following a brawl with student members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a body affiliated to the Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
On the previous night, three students, Vikrant Kumar, Ankit Kumar and Sunil Pratap had an altercation with Ahmed when they were on their regular door-to-door campaigning session at around 11:30 pm.
Najeeb had spoken to his mother that night and his friends and roommate had reportedly heard him mutter he committed a mistake. “Mujhse galti ho gayi, mera ilaj chal raha hai (I have committed a mistake, I am under treatment),” a police report stated. Najeeb’s mother had reportedly told his roommate Moh Qasim that he should give him “his medicines” and not leave his side by the time she reaches the campus.
A police report had quoted that his mother had asked his roommate to give him medicines and take care of him till she reached the university.
His disappearance caused a massive outrage. The JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) had called for a ‘total shutdown’ of the university and ‘non co-operation’ with the administration. A case of abduction was then registered at Vasant Kunj (North) police station.
However, the ABVP members accused Left parties of hiding Najeeb.
Police and JNU administration have claimed that Najeeb had run away fearing for his life. But the question arises – Why did he have to leave behind his wallet and mobile phone? Why did he have to call his mother to the university?
What His Mother Has Said So Far
‘Inaction by Delhi Police’
Nine persons were initially named as accused in the case and as part of the investigation, their mobile phones were confiscated and scrutinised. But the police claimed to have failed to establish a direct link between the scuffle and Najeeb’s disappearance.
Fatima slammed the police, asking, “If they did not find anything in that data or their phones, why are they not making it public? We have asked the CBI to show us the phones and the material they claim to have taken from Najeeb’s laptop. But they have not given us a single document,” quoted The Print.
His sister Sadaf had told The Quint in October 2017 that, “No written explanation was taken from the assaulters that day who beat up Najeeb in front of everyone, including the warden. But they took it in writing from Najeeb.”
Sued Media for ‘IS Link’ Story
In March 2018, Fatima filed a defamation suit against a group of media houses for naming her son an ‘ISIS symapthiser’, indicating that he had links to the terrorist organisation.
She filed a suit through the Human Rights Law network and pointed out that the media houses failed to retract their stories incriminating him, even after the police claimed that nothing in the investigation had suggested this link .
Questions for Chowkidar Narendra Modi
In March 2019, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned ‘Chowkidar Narendra Modi’ on Twitter, Fatima had a question for him:
“If you are a chowkidar, then tell me where is my son Najeeb?”
Disappointed with the investigation agencies, Fatima has participated in several protests in the past four years. “We are a Muslim minority in this country. Thus, no minister came forward to voice-out for us. The case has been neglected and no arrests have been made,” she told Anadolu Agency.
“He is a very hard working boy. He is not a quitter. He would never leave his mother like this, as being claimed by many.”Fatima Nafees to The Print
A Closed File; But the Fight is Still On
In October 2018, the CBI gave up on its investigation and filed a closure report in court, stating that it was unable to locate Najeeb despite concerted efforts and declaring him “untraced.”
While the case file has been shut, Najeeb’s mother, Fatima, is determined to fight for her son, as she believes that he is alive and will return to her soon.
She moved the court with a protest petition challenging the CBI’s closure report, filed in Patiala House Courts, terming it ‘biased and partial.’
On 27 February 2020, the Delhi court sought CBI's response.
The petition claimed that it did not conduct a proper investigation and filed the closure report on false grounds, which made it seem that Ahmed went missing voluntarily.
The high court had noted that it was not in agreement with the claims made by the family that this closure report was due to ‘political compulsions.’
Four years have passed and there are so many unanswered questions.
Why did the CBI close the case so soon?
Why was there no SIT upon the pleas of Fatima Nafees?
Was there political pressure from the ABVP for a cover up, as alleged by Ahmed’s mother?
What caused the tussle between Ahmed and the ABVP students in the first place?
Where is Najeeb Ahmed?
The only thing we know for sure is that there is a mother still waiting for her son to return home.