Union home minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday a special Delhi Police team will look for a Jawaharlal Nehru University student whose disappearance five days ago triggered campus protests and an overnight blockade of the vice-chancellor inside a building.
Singh’s comment came as students hold V-C M Jagadesh Kumar and other officials inside a building for more than 20 hours – allegedly without food or water --demanding a probe to trace Najeeb Ahmed, who apparently disappeared after a thrashing by members of a student group linked to the BJP.
Spoke to CP Delhi regarding the incident of JNU student gone missing. I have instructed him to constitute a special team to look out for him— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) October 20, 2016
Delhi Police say they have formed 10 teams to find Ahmed in the Capital and neighbouring states, and have announced a cash award of Rs 50,000 for anyone with information about the student.
“We have some leads and it being developed to ensure a safe rescue of Ahmed. Not much related to investigation can be shared at this moment, as it may hamper our efforts,” Nupur Prasad, additional DCP, South, said.
V-C M Jagadesh Kumar also warned that if protesting students didn’t let him out for a meeting at 2.30pm, police may be called. “We would like to get the issue resolved without any outside intervention,” Kumar told the media. “However, I am determined to leave for the meeting and if they stop me, law will take its own course,” he added.
Since Ahmed’s disappearance on Friday, tensions have mounted on campus with the Left-controlled students union saying the university has been lax in trying to find Ahmed and book members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the youth wing of the RSS. Others say Ahmed slapped a student.
JNU is ranked among India’s top educational institutions but has been rocked by protests and an ugly row over nationalism after a controversial event commemorating 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in February. Classes in the university were suspended for days and students went on strike against the government’s move to arrest and charge top student union leaders with sedition.
The students say they haven’t illegally confined anyone and blocked food or water. “You all know the proctor was outside and he freely walked into the building. Electricity and supplies are here. We have also sent food for all people,” Mohit Pandey, president of the JNUSU, said.
But the V-C says the union is “blatantly lying” and that he was effectively stopped when he tried to step out at 2.20am on Thursday. “They lay in front of the gate. How could we walk over them? So I said to them that we had no option but to go back to our rooms. There was no food and we slept on the floor,” he said.
The V-C also said they met several students and informed them about the steps the university took to locate Ahmed. He said the university has already written to the police in the matter. However, the police have not been asked for assistance yet to end the ongoing standoff.
Prasad said no police deployment had been done on campus. A senior police officer said the JNU administration has not asked for any police deployment or assistance.
The current crisis began on Friday, when violence was reported from the Mahi-Mandvi hostel on campus – where one faction says ABVP beat up Ahmed and another that the Muslim student slapped a hostel resident. At least 12 students have been asked to depose before the proctorial committee in this regard, officials said.
Ahmed’s family lodged a complaint at Vasant Kunj North police station on Tuesday and an FIR has been registered for kidnapping and wrongfully confining a person.