Hands tied, mouths sealed

There must be hundreds of Nafeesas elsewhere in the country wailing and waiting for their missing children to return home

M.L. Kotru
Srinagar, Publish Date: Oct 21 2017 10:27PM | Updated Date: Oct 21 2017 10:27PM
Hands tied, mouths sealedFile Photo

This is a story they won’t tell. Its stars are the men in khaki, cops if you will, not from the backwoods of Kashmir valley or from the jungles of North East. It’s a story that began in India’s capital, New Delhi, to wit, and within the precincts of one of its hallowed educational institutions (currently getting its high-flying wings clipped). It’s horrifying. Yes, it is. Since the victim and those who accosted him to anonymity are known and have indeed been “questioned” by the Khakis. So the cops have said. A claim that has often got punctured and was more or less exposed in the chambers of the Delhi High Court the other day. 

At another level the story compels attention for other reasons. For, it requires us all to spare a thought for an untiring mother, an intrepid spirit who has knocked on every available door, seeking an answer to her  only question : where’s my son Najeeb, the 27-year-old JNU post graduate scholar. Four Eids and two Diwalis have gone by but Orwellian authority seems to suggest  an entity like him (Najeeb) probably never existed. Or, alternatively, on that fateful day when  a bunch of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the students wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sang, chose to accost him – into oblivion; it seems the man may well have ceased to be. For he hasn’t been heard of, or from, then on.

Fatima Nafees, the 48-year-old mother of  Najeeb Ahmed tells anyone who cares to listen of how she had instinctively  advised her son to seek admission  at  the Jamia Millia not JNU but  was over-ruled, the son arguing.  JNU, it turns out retrospectively has become an academic snake-pit, a sort of laboratory for the saffron brigands to flex and fine tune their muscles. Authority, in the shape of the HRD Ministry  and UGC , has contributed its two bits, these past four years to paint the very fine university into  the favored colour of the Sangh parivar Bhagwa, or  saffron,if you will., but the general body of students is still far from a surrender.  Only the other day it  snuffed out the ABHVP plans to stage-manage the JNU Students Union poll. It was virtually snubbed, put in its  place.

But this brings no solace to the mother of my story as was evident  on Monday last when she once again managed to be picked up, over protests by a body of sympathetic students, by the police to save her from herself (I presume) as she turned up at the Delhi High Court  to hear the division bench comprising two honorable judges disrobe  the police and that handmaiden of the Government, the Central Bureau of Investigation and its shoddy ‘efforts’ to get at the truth of Najeeb”s kidnapping. The ABVP men who had engaged him in a brawl had been let off within days of the dastardly incident with not a thought spared for the hapless Najeeb who has remained untraced since.

 Everyone, that’s everyone in authority, so-called investigators in particular, would indeed have preferred to  close the case as one of those from the unresolved categories but for the unyielding mother who has knocked on every so-called VIP door including the Home Minister’s, a virtual tigress on the prowl tracing her missing cub. Yes, she insists as she is jostled by the police into the safety of a police station  screaming “Mera Najeeb Kahan hai. jawab dijiye’ He couldn’t have just vanished like the Batman of the film series or like Shaktiman of Indian TV. He was pushed around, he was heckled, surrounded and taken away by those objecting to his presence, namely, the ABVP men. An indignant Court did reprimand the local police and the CB for “complete lack of interest” in  Najeeb’s disappearance  Contradictions had been found in what was orally submitted in the court and in the status report prepared by an Inspector against the specific instructions that these be handled by an officer of the rank of a Deputy Inspector General of Police irrespective of political power play.

The call data records of what the nine ABVP students suspected of being behind the “kidnapping” be analyzed on record – unlike the statement by the inspector that oral submissions had been made. The Court was annoyed that the supervision of the investigation was left to an Inspector against the Court orders hat a DIG of CBI be put in-charge. All these juridical observations make interesting reading but the tireless mother Fatima Nafees has just one question on her lips ‘Where is my Najeeb Beta. He has been missing since early November last year. That didn’t prevent the police from picking her up from the High Court that Monday, sustaining some injuries according to some and also requiring f intravenous drip. It might have been some consolation though for her to hear that the High Court did  an early hearing by the Chief Judicial Magistrate for hearing  the plea seeking consent of the nine ABVP students for the conduct of a polygraph test. 

 In conclusion, I confess to unadulterated admiration for the doughty spirit called Nafeesa Jahan, the missing Najeeb’s untiring mother. Many concerned citizens have stood by her as she continues to  endeavor;  such women do indeed deserve to be backed not just  by you or me but by  everyone who believes that her battle shouldn’t end up in another unsolved mystery. May be what initiated the disappearance on day one a year ago holds the key to the mystery. There must be hundreds of Nafeesas elsewhere in the country wailing and waiting for their missing children to return home, particularly  in  troubled areas up north in Kashmir and down east along the way to  the North East. Even as I hope that the BJP government in New Delhi may learn to take a more compassionate view of the  non-saffron world around it I know I am barking up the wrong tree. The parivar doesn’t believe in forgiving  nor does it forget. It believes in 'badla’ and the latest obsession of the wreckers continues to be the denigration of Taj Mahal or anything that  confirms the continuity of a major Islamic presence in India dating back to many,many centuries, over a 1,000 years, much before some native faiths were born.  The UP Chief Minister continues  to project the monument as a symbol of Mughal arrogance. On Diwali eve, for instance, he carried the argument forward saying the Taj is a monument to the blood and toil of the labour (presumably all Hindu) and not to Shah Jehan’s love for Mumtaz. Rabindranath Tagore’s celebrated reference to Taj Mahal as “the tear drop on the cheek of history” seems to have an eyesore for  the  saffronites. Yet, I do know Taj  (with Ayodhya) is but a teaser trailer of what to expect  as the BJP gets into the poll mode.

And yet  I don’t know why  Najeeb's relentless, untiring mother, her never-say-die spirit  continues to haunt me.