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Focus on missing student Najeeb Ahmad in JNU presidential debate

Responding to a question by Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) candidate Shabana Ali, ABVP candidate Nidhi Tripathi said her party had never tried to politicise the disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed.

delhi Updated: Sep 07, 2017 23:55 IST
A Mariyam Alavi
A Mariyam Alavi
Hindustan Times
JNU,JNU polls,student poll
Supporters of ABVP blow a conch during an open debate for presidential candidates in the JNU student elections .(Vipin KUmar /HT PHOTO)

Fielding questions during the presidential debate for the JNU student union elections on Wednesday night, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s (ABVP) presidential candidate accused left parties of politicising JNU student Najeeb Ahmed’s disappearance.

A swarm of students assembled at JNU’s Jhelum lawns at 9 pm on Wednesday for the much-awaited debate. They stayed on till the early hours of Thursday; braving the rain, leaky shamianas -- belting out slogans.

Responding to a question by Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) candidate Shabana Ali, ABVP candidate Nidhi Tripathi said her party had never tried to politicise the disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed.

“Politicisation of Najeeb Ahmed’s case was done by you, not ABVP. In Najeeb’s case, a student is slapped for tying a kaleva (a sacred thread) on their wrist, who will be answerable for this? Najeeb leaves and goes to Jamia Milia Islamia, then why doesn’t Jamia give video recordings from the gate?...The truth is that for your own selfish political interests, you must have made Najeeb disappear yourself,” said Tripathi.

Mohit Pandey, the outgoing president of JNUSU who had won the post as an AISA-SFI left alliance candidate, countered. “This is not about politics. We working on the process to get justice. It is not just us who have claimed that Najeeb was assaulted, there are witnesses,” he said.

The other presidential contenders are Congress-backed National Students Union of India (NSUI)’s Vrishnika Singh, Aparajitha Raja of AISF and independent candidate Farooque Alam, who all spoke of Najeeb and ABVP’s alleged role in his disappearance at some point in their speeches.

While most candidates seemed to have identified a common opponent in the ABVP, with Raja even referring to an increasing right wing shift globally and how India should soon raise slogans of “RSS Quit India,” the candidates also took the incumbent united left on for failing to remove ABVP from campus and playing politics of fear.

“The panel talks about coming together to remove ABVP from campus. Forget about removing the ABVP from campus, the union could not even remove the flower-pots placed at the freedom square to prevent us from using the space for protests,” said Ali.

Tripathi spoke of promises of hostels, placement cell, health centre, metro feeder buses and measures for women’s health and hygiene, including sanitary napkin dispensers and a gynaecologist on campus.

NSUI’s Singh, like her peers, spoke of the UGC gazette notification, which allegedly led to cut seats on campus and denied deprivation points to women. She vowed to bring the deprivation points back, work for campus unity and reclaim the freedom square.

Kumari of the United Left panel, went for the ABVP’s jugular, and questioned on the current regime’s take on communal politics, their stance on Najeeb Ahmed and Rohith Vemula, waiving Vijay Mallya’s loans while denying the same to farmers, and the alleged attempts at homogenising the society.

“In this country, they want one religion, one language everywhere. Just as Hitler wanted one people, one empire, and one leader,” she said.

JNU will go to polls on Friday to elect their next student representatives.

First Published: Sep 07, 2017 23:54 IST