Najeeb Ahmed: He is still missing
Much like Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, the sudden vanishing of Najeeb Ahmed, the first-year PG student in JNU is peculiar and strange. The missing 27-year-old is now the newest symbol of the student's protest movement that has previously engulfed JNU
Where is Najeeb Ahmed? The first year MSc Biotechnology student of JNU has been missing since the morning of October 15. As each day passes, there is no news of his whereabouts. For a week now the police have been unsuccessful in their attempts to locate Ahmed: they have combed the nearby forests, tried to recreate his movements— but to no avail.
On October 15, Najeeb vanished from his hostel after he had a scrap with three student activists of ABVP the night before. It is alleged that 15-20 activists swooped down on Najeeb after he allegedly slapped Vikrant, one of the three activists, for wearing kalava (the red string around the wrist) and slapped him across the face. Despite the hostel administration, wardens and security guards, intervening, the matter only got worse. Several guards and a warden were beaten up in the scuffle that ensued. The JNU Students Union has blamed the ABVP for fuelling communal tensions in the university and creating an environment of insecurity in the campus premises. The ABVP has blamed the AISA and other parties for 'politicising' a small scuffle in the hostel.
The university administration’s callous and insensitive attitude towards the case of the missing student is also becoming one of the main rallying points of the student community. The Vice-Chancellor, according to the students union, has not met the mother of Najeeb, for three days, in spite of her repeated attempts to meet him. The students believe that the administration is not doing much.
His bizarre disappearance has caused unease in the campus. The questions of safety and security have arisen, posters against the ‘atmosphere of fear’ in the campus are everywhere. The students congregated at the Administrative Block to condemn the insensitivity of the administration towards the mother of Najeeb who sits crying, and whose voice has gone hoarse from the repeated interviews to the press. All she wants is for her son to come back. The students have begun protesting again, on October 19 they declared that they would protest against the administration, then they gheraoed the Vice-Chancellor for eighteen hours demanding that the college do all it can to help find Najeeb. On October 21, the students marched up to the office of the Home Ministry demanding a probe into the incident to help find Najeeb. The Home Minister Rajnath Singh has set up a Special Team to look for Ahmed.
There are several eyewitness accounts that have emerged in the days that have gone by since the incident on October 14.It is a real life version of the Rashomon effect. The Rashomon effect is a term used to describe the circumstance when the same event is given contradictory interpretations by different individuals involved. However, these ‘versions’ are now fast becoming the latest site of resistance/unnecessary protesting and politicising against the university administration.
What must be admitted is that the sequence of events is eerie, to say the least.
The ABVP has said that there are contradictions in the narrative of the AISA and JNUSU, while the JNUSU has blamed the ABVP for beating up Najeeb, and then trying to communalise the atmosphere in the college. However, there are several questions that remain unanswered. Several students are asking some important questions: Why is there no medical certificate if Najeeb was taken to the hospital? Why is there no photograph or video of the entire event if the altercation was so big? Can the ABVP muster so much manpower?