Missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed was “very mild-mannered and always studying”, says his roommate Mohd Qasim, who denies writing a letter to the warden asking that Najeeb be kept out of the hostel.
Qasim told IANS that he issued another letter on October 18 testifying that Najeeb was of humble character.
Qasim, who is studying Arabic in the School of Languages, is also a member of the hostel committee of Mahi-Mandvi, where Najeeb was beaten on the intervening night of October 14-15 and has since been missing.
Qasim told IANS that he did not write the first letter, but “only signed it”. The letter has been doing the rounds on social media.
Qasim said the first letter was “signed in a hurry” during the tumultuous atmosphere following the assault on Najeeb allegedly by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members.
Najeeb, a 27-year-old student of JNU, was studying MSc Biotechnology. He had got the hostel accommodation just a fortnight before he went missing.
“The first letter was written by a student of the same hostel, who was Election Committee (EC) member during last month’s elections. He wrote the letter while I was trying to assuage the crowd inside the warden’s office that night. My only priority was the safety of Najeeb as the mob was baying for his blood,” Qasim told IANS.
“It was only on October 17 while going to the proctor’s office for my deposition that I was accosted by this person, who said ‘zyada uchchlo mat, ek baar apna letter jaake padhlo’ (Don’t fly so high and read the letter that you signed). I then read the letter, which has so many incongruities and is a far cry from the truth,” he said.
In the new letter, Qasim testified that Najeeb was full of humility.
“Despite being older than me, he would always talk to me with respect. He had no political affiliations at all. One day he even asked me what AISA (All India Students Association) stood for,” Qasim added.
Qasim expressed dismay over the “false news” disseminated by the electronic media on the first letter without checking its authenticity or cross checking facts. He cast doubts on the political affiliations of the student, who he alleges wrote the first letter, and maintains that being an EC member he ought to have been politically neutral.
Qasim was campaigning for a student Hamid Raza, in the same hostel, for the post of hostel president, when the news of assault on Najeeb reached him.
Qasim also pointed out that hostel warden Sushil Kumar had later acknowledged the attack on Najeeb as a “brutal assault” in a letter to the proctor on October 16. In the letter, the warden had also pointed out that among those who assaulted Najeeb were students staying illegally in the hostel and needed to be identified.
As confusion continues to reign in the premier university over the events that unfolded since October 14, the ABVP has been adding to it by running a campaign to counter the charges of mob assault levelled against its members.
Saurabh Sharma, an ex-joint secretary of JNU Students Union (JNUSU), told IANS that all protests by the union over Najeeb going missing are nothing but an attempt to politicise the matter.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by Delhi police to trace Najeeb visited the campus two days back and questioned Qasim.
“I told them the same thing which I have told you. Najeeb was a very mild-mannered person and was always studying... But the university is yet to label those involved in the assault as accused. The university administration and police have questioned them only as eyewitnesses. It’s a gross injustice that these people are still roaming in the campus free,” Qasim said.