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In JNU’s Mahi-Mandavi Hostel, an empty bed in Room 106 awaits Najeeb Ahmad

Najeeb’s spot at the JNU hostel has not been allotted to a new student this year. His roommate has vowed that he will not allow the room to be allotted to anybody else.

delhi Updated: Oct 14, 2017 23:56 IST
A Mariyam Alavi
A Mariyam Alavi
Hindustan Times
JNU,delhi,Delhi news
The room has been central to Najeeb’s case. The alleged scuffle between him and ABVP workers broke out there.(Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

While many may have given up the hope of finding Najeeb Ahmad, the 29-year-old JNU student who has been missing for a year, there is someone, or rather something that still awaits his return — his bed in Room 106 at the Mahi-Mandavi Hostel.

Najeeb’s spot at the hostel in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has not been allotted to a new student this year. His roommate, Mohd Qasim, who was one of the last people to see Najeeb before he disappeared, has vowed that he will not allow the room to be allotted to anybody else.

It remains unclear why the room has not been allotted this year; the registrar, the spokesperson and the hostel president all said they are unaware of the reasons why it has not been allotted. The dean of students, and the Rector-III, to whom HT was directed by other officials were unavailable for comment.

Qasim said that he had protested when the hostel caretaker had attempted to list the spot as empty to get it allotted earlier this year.

“I told them that if they really need one more bed in the hostel, let them allot mine. I would have made other arrangements for myself. But this has to remain Najeeb’s room, at least for the years he would have been a student here,” he said.

Room 106 has been central to Najeeb’s case. The reported scuffle between him and the alleged members of the RSS-backed ABVP broke out here. He had then spent his last night at the hostel here, before he went missing the following morning.

Najeeb had been allotted the hostel in late September, and had gone missing on October 15. In this short span, he had also visited home for almost a week, leaving very little time for his peers to get to know him.

His only interaction during his very short-lived stay at JNU seems to have been with Qasim; even that did not pervade basic niceties. Qasim said, that during his stay, he had not seen many people visit or call Najeeb. His mother was the only person Najeeb regularly called.

“I liked that about him. My parents passed away when I was young, so I liked how close he was to his mother. Only those don’t have one will know the value of a mother,” he said.

Even though Qasim is a member of the Left-wing All India Students’ Association (AISA), he said that Najeeb displayed no interest in politics. “He had even asked me once what AISA was, and I had teased him about it. How could he not know what AISA was when he was my roommate? But I did not want him to be political either. I did not want a politically active roommate. Otherwise, after all the work when I got back to my room, I would end up discussing politics again,” said Qasim.

Qasim said he distinctly remembers a conversation he had about his love for poetry with Najeeb. “He was a science student. But I remember I recited a couplet for him and he immediately understood what it meant. It had taken me, a language student, far longer than that to decipher it when I first heard it,” he said, recalling the couplets they had discussed.

Woh ashkh banke, mere chashm-e-tar mein rehta hai,

Ajeeb shakhs hai, pani ke ghar mein rehta hai,

Qasim said that he had been away when the reported scuffles broke out between Najeeb and the others, and he still regrets it to this day. “Sometimes I wish I had been in the room when the others had come knocking. Maybe they would have spoken to me, instead of Najeeb. Maybe none of this would have happened,” he said.

What will Qasim do if the administration allots Najeeb’s spot to someone else?

“It will always be ‘Najeeb’s room.’ No matter who stays there,” said Qasim.

First Published: Oct 14, 2017 23:56 IST