Nationwide Protests Mark Third Year of Najeeb’s Disappearance

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Demonstration held at Jantar Mantar for Justice for Najeeb

Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily

New Delhi – “Main apni akhri saans tak jaddojehad jari rakhoongi jab tak main apney baite Najeeb Ahmed ko uski hifazat aur insaaf nahin milta” (I will continue my struggle till the last breath of my life and will not rest till I ensure safety and justice for my son Najeeb Ahmed). These were the words missing Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Najeeb Ahmed’s mother, Fatima Nafees, uttered during a protest rally held at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday here.

She led a protest march to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s residence but was stopped midway by the Delhi Police.

To mark third year of Najeeb’s mysterious disappearance from the university hostel after an altercation with members of ruling BJP’s student wing, United Against Hate, a civil society group, had organised the rally and march. Similar rallies were also organised in Hyderabad, Kolkata and other cities of the country to demand answers from the Centre and the investigative agencies to questions about whereabouts of the Najeeb.

Before the march, a host of prominent rights defenders and activists, notable among them Prof Apoorvanand, Booker-prize winning author Arundhati Roy, Kunwar Danish Ali (MP), Prof Nandita Narain Das, Advocate Prashant Bhushan and others addressed the rally. They all came down heavily on the government for its failure to trace the missing student.

Najeeb was a first-year bio-technology student. He went missing on October 15, 2016. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a closure report without conclusively investigating the case. It is alleged that some students affiliated to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarti Parishad (ABVP), a BJP student wing, were said to have been involved in a brawl with Najeeb before his disappearance and the police. The CBI did not even question the accused before closing the case calling allegations of saving them from prosecution.

Supporting the demand for reopening of the Najeeb case, Arundhati Roy blamed the government for his disappearance. Calling the people to stand up against fascist forces, she said, “They (RSS-BJP) want to frighten us by using the bogey of Pakistan, Kashmir, infiltration and hatred. But we should not hide our identity and take them on head on.”

She also lashed out at Opposition political parties for failure to check highhandedness of the government.

Disappearance, lynching, violence and citizenship, she said all these were symptoms of a very big disease and our country is very sick at the moment. She warned that the regime would unleash more authoritarian moves to tighten its grip on power, but we should remain united against these onslaughts.

Echoing similar sentiments, Prof Apoorvanand said if Najeeb was not Najeeb, the criminal justice system would not have shown such apathy and in tracing him. In this context he said no statutory institution or agency of the government was working independently and honestly in accordance with the Constitution. He pointed out that instead arresting the culprits, they arrest victims for raising voice against the atrocities.

Speaking on the occasion, noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan said they (the government) have destroyed all the institutions and transformed the CBI into an official “parrot” and captured media.

BSP member parliament (MP) Danish Ali observed that though the investigative agencies are professional, they are now working under political pressure and because of this Najeeb’s case remained un-cracked. He called Najeeb’s fight a symbolic fight against the injustice and tyranny.

Activist and former JNU student Umar Khalid alleged that the CBI never investigated the case properly and not even questioned those ABVP students who had beaten up Najeeb before he went missing from the hostel and the Delhi Police also did the same.

Calling the students who came to protest for Najeeb as her children, Najeeb’s mother Nafees said, “I know that one day God will listen to my plea. And I pray that such a thing never happens to any student of any university. My fight will continue like this… I am not getting tired any time soon…”

She concluded by thanking her fellow protesters for standing by her and giving her strength for the long fight.

Jharkhand lynching victim Tabrez Ansari’s widow Shaista Parveen also spoke on the occasion and demanded justice for her husband.

Slain journalist Gauri Lankesh‘s sister, Kavita Lankesh, also addressed the gathering. Various student leaders and professors including Prof Nandita Narian and activists addressed the rally amid slogans against the government and security agencies. Hundreds of students from Delhi’s all four universities and people from different walks of life joined the protest. The protesters pledged to continue fighting against the government till justice is served to the family of the deceased and the missing. They also handed over a memorandum to the Home Minister demanding reopening of Najeeb case.

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