15th October marks the third anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed. Najeeb Ahmed was a first year M.Sc student at the JNU, New Delhi who went missing under suspicious circumstances on 15 October 2016 from his hostel in the university campus. The night before his disappearance, he had been assaulted in his hostel by the ABVP.
The Police had filed an FIR for kidnapping and wrongful confinement based on Najeeb’s mother Fatima Nafees’ complaint on October 15, 2016. Najeeb’ mother also filed a habeas corpus petition on November 25, 2016 before the Delhi High Court after the Delhi Police had failed to make any headway in the case a month after her son’s disappearance. Premier investigative agencies such as a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Delhi Police, the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police and even the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have been unable to find any leads into his disappearance. All these agencies have been reprimanded by the Delhi High Court at different points for their shoddy investigation into the case.
The CBI, which was investigating Najeeb’s disappearance, in one of their submissions to the Delhi High Court, stated that the Delhi Police had forged a false statement by an auto driver that he had driven Najeeb to Jamia Milia Islamia University on the day of his disappearance. The Delhi Police had used this fabricated evidence to pursue a theory that Najeeb had left the campus on his own volition. It had also used Najeeb’s medical history to assert that he was mentally disturbed. After being unable to prove any connection between his medical condition and his disappearance, the Delhi Police quietly dropped this line of investigation. The Times of India and other mainstream news outlets ran reports insinuating that the missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed could be an ISIS sympathizer. The news was obviously fake and later even denied by the Delhi police, but it served to divert attention public away from the brutal assault and abduction.
Students Islamic Organisation of India believes that the case of Najeeb has suffered a miscarriage of justice from the very first day. The supposedly ‘premier’ investigation agencies of the land including CBI have failed to convey even the impression of a competent investigation, and instead wasted their resources on media management and created false narratives.
SIO also strongly believes that the case is not limited to the forceful disappearance of one Najeeb Ahmed. The manner in which Najeeb was assaulted and made to disappear inside one of the most famous central universities of the country in the very heart of the national capital, and the fact that his attackers were never even questioned in the matter, shows that a much larger message was being conveyed. The clear purpose of this whole affair was to convey a ‘chilling effect’ that would make minorities and marginalised communities feel unsafe and deter them from accessing institutions of higher education. In this context, it is the responsibility of the entire student’s community that it should demand the return of Najeeb with one voice, both to ensure justice for Najeeb and to convey a clear message that no one must be made to feel unsafe and denied access to education because of their identity.
Since 2016, SIO along with the mother of Najeeb, Fatima Nafees (Ammi) organized hundreds of protests, rallies, student conferences and public meetings demanding the return of Najeeb and justice for the family. In February 2017, SIO observed a ‘Month of Resistance’ and collected 3.3 million signatures across the nation to pressurize authorities to deliver justice. In 2018, SIO gave a national call for protest especially in central universities to form Najeeb Square. In 2019, a delegation of SIO met with mother of Najeeb at her residence in Badaun, U.P and appealed students and youth community to raise the question #WhereIsNajeeb across the nation on 15th October 2019.
Through nationwide campaign, SIO of India demands:
1. To Bring back Najeeb Ahmed
2. To arrest and investigate ABVP members involved in assaulting Najeeb before his forceful disappearance from JNU.
3. To assure the family and student community that justice will be done as early as possible.
4. To assure the student community of their safety in universities across the nation.