FATIMA NAFEES | 8 AUGUST, 2017
NEW DELHI: It has been close to three months since the matter of Najeeb's disappearance was transferred to the CBI, after the Delhi High Court found serious lapses in the working of the Crime Branch of Delhi Police.
Eyewitnesses have repeatedly pointed to the assault and death threats made by ABVP members - a fact that no investigating agency is willing to take cognisance of, in order to shield the ABVP members who continue to go scot-free even 10 months after the assault and disappearance.
On all past hearings, the CBI appeared clueless and sought more time to look at the matter.
Today, that is on 8th of August, the CBI filed a one-month old status report in the Delhi High Court. This shows a shocking non-seriousness on part of the CBI towards the case. While the CBI is very proactive when it comes to raiding the residences of journalists and activists, the same CBI has the audacity to recycle an old report dated July 17, hoping no one will notice! After being reprimanded by the judge, the CBI lawyer apologised and sought even more time.
On October 15 2016, Najeeb Ahmed, enrolled in first-year M.Sc. Biotechnology and a resident of Mahi-Mandvi Hostel, disappeared from his hostel room in broad daylight. A missing person’s complaint was recorded at the Vasant Kunj (North) Police Station on the very same day, and the police registered an FIR under section 365 of the IPC against unknown persons on 16 October 2016.
After repeated protests by JNU students and appeals by Najeeb's family, the Delhi Police formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to trace Najeeb. As the SIT did not make any breakthrough, the case was transferred to the Delhi Police Crime Branch. When it was almost a month and the Delhi Police had no clue about the whereabouts of Najeeb, his mother filed a Habeas Corpus at the Delhi High Court.
Why was there a delay of more than a month to initiate the investigation on the complaint of Najeeb’s disappearance? Who is responsible for this delay that has led to the present impasse in the case?
It is important to state that Najeeb went missing after a brutal assault on him by identified students of JNU on the intervening night of 14-15 October. However, the SHO of the aforesaid Police Station directed the mother of Najeeb not to mention the assault on her son. Several students of JNU, including the President of JNUSU,
This shows the continued non-seriousness of the law enforcement agencies - first the police, then the CBI - in the matter. The persons who assaulted Najeeb prior to his disappearance are being shielded. The CBI is not taking cognisance of 22 eyewitness accounts that testify how Najeeb was assaulted by ABVP members.
Those whowitnessed the assault on Najeeb and they filed complaints both within the University at the office of Chief Proctor and to the SHO at the Vasant Kunj (North) Station. Their complaint mentioned the assault committed on Najeeb, and named the students who were involved in instigating the assault and intimidating him with threat to life. However, the Crime Branch neither interrogated nor took the accused persons into custody.
These accused persons when asked to undergo the polygraph test, so as to aid the investigation, did not present themselves before the court to state whether they shall take the test or not. Precious three months were lost in merely getting the consent for this polygraph test. If the ABVP members accused of assaulting Najeeb are not guilty, then why are they shying away from the lie detector test? This is a question that they have to answer to the student community.
During the first 7 months of the case, the Crime Branch filed around 9 status reports before the High Court, and the Judges on several occasions rebuked the Delhi Police for the delay and observed their several lapses. While the JNU administration dealt with this case insensitively and apathetically, the Delhi Police was conducting a pre-determined and biased investigation.
During these several months, Najeeb's family along with JNU students are running from pillar to post seeking a speedy and fair inquiry. Besides the fact that there is no clue on Najeeb's whereabouts, his family has been facing insurmountable threats and harassment from various quarters that intend to break their resolve in fighting this case, including the Delhi Police raids at odd-hours in Najeeb’s relatives’ house in spite of assured co-operation from their end.
The most derogatory, atrocious and defamatory one was the allegation of influential national dailies that Najeeb was under the influence of a terrorist organisation (ISIS). The Delhi Police immediately clarified in their press conference that there was nothing in their investigation to suggest any link of Najeeb with ISIS. Even the Judges made a similar observation based on the forensic analysis reports of Najeeb’s laptop and call records, which the police had filed in a sealed cover.
Notwithstanding all refutations, the popular perception is going against Najeeb and his entire family, and they have been at the receiving end of hatred. This is a case beyond maligning the reputation of Najeeb and his family. Such communal profiling cannot be tolerated at any cost, which causes threat to life of the entire family.
It is almost 10 months now and the premier investigation agencies of this country - the Crime Branch of Delhi Police, the CBI - have found no trace of Najeeb. Even the most basic step of registering a FIR against those who are accused of assaulting Najeeb prior to his disappearance has not been done so far. There are enough witness statements with the CBI to make immediate arrests. What is the CBI waiting for? Orders from above?
Such apathy in a habeas corpus petition, wherein the police is required to produce the person within 3 months is quite telling about the status and motivations of our state institutions.
The CBI worked day-in and day-out to topple the government in Bihar; conducted bogus raids on the residences of journalists and activists like Prannoy Roy and Teesta Setalvad but has not bothered to move even an inch in Najeeb's case.
Why doesn't the CBI arrest those who assaulted Najeeb? Such partisan and apathetic attitude of the country's foremost investigation agency is unacceptable.
(This statement has been issued by the missing students mother Fatima Nafees on the eve of another protest to #BringBackNajeeb being organised at the Jawaharlal Nehru University tomorrow on August 8)