Indian govt blamed over fate of missing Muslim student

Call for a thorough investigation of hard-line Hindu students who scuffled with Najeeb Ahmed before he disappeared
Indian govt blamed over fate of missing Muslim student

Fatima Nafees, mother of Najeeb Ahmed who went missing from Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2016, cries as she addresses a protest march in New Delhi on Oct 15 which marked the second year of the disappearance of her son. (Photo by Bijay Kumar Minj/ucanews.com)

The disappearance of an Indian Muslim post-graduate university student two years ago has resulted in an anti-government demonstration in the nation's capital, New Delhi.

Najeeb Ahmed, 27, has not been seen since the night of Oct. 14-15, 2016, when he was involved in a scuffle with members of an outfit called Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The ABVP is the student wing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that came to power nationally in 2014.

Left-wing students at the university openly criticise the ABVP's support for Hindu-majority domination of the nation, something that at times leads to clashes.

Some 700 political and rights' activists, religious leaders and representatives of civil society groups Oct. 15 joined students from Jawaharlal Nehru University on a two-kilometer march to a public square near India's Parliament.

John Dayal, a rights activist and Catholic who attended the protest, said many Indians feel threatened by "fascist forces."

It was disturbing that particular groups — such as tribals, Muslims and poor Dalits formerly known as untouchables — are targeted, he added.

"We have to think about the solution collectively," said Dayal, who is the general secretary of the All India Christian Council.

People who addressed the recent New Delhi protest accused federal government agencies working under Modi's BJP of trying to protect criminals within ABVP they believe are responsible for Najeeb Ahmed's disappearance.

Ahmed's mother, Fatima Nafees, said hard-line Hindus opposed to secularism were behind the crime.

Nafees told the protest rally that the federal government's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) "never probed" her son's disappearance from his college hostel.

"It worked at the behest of the government, but I will not give up," she said, adding that she will continue to personally look for her son.

A court appeal has been lodged against a judicial decision in early October allowing the CBI to close the case without having solved it.

And appointment of a so-called 'Special Investigation Team' is being sought.

Supporting Nafees at the protest gathering was Radhika Vemula, mother of a Dalit student named Rohith, who committed suicide in 2016 after reportedly being harassed by officials of a southern university.

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Rohith was the leader of a Dalit studensts' group.

"Dalits, indigenous people and Muslims are being targeted," his mother said.

"The BJP's rule is worse than the British rule."

She added that people should vote for "peace loving" candidates and not for the BJP.

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president, N. Sai Balaji, told the New Delhi protest of Oct. 15 that the Modi government was trying to stifle cries for democracy and justice.

"But if you do not give us justice, we will uproot you in 2019," he said, referring to general elections due in May. 

Demonstrators shouted, 'We are Najeeb' and 'Justice for Najeeb'.

India has been witnessing increased religious polarization since the BJP was elected nationally as well as being in control of many state governments.

And the BJP, by projecting itself as a champion of Hindu interests, has bolstered ultra-nationalist Hindu groups, according to activists supporting minorities.

Christian and Muslim leaders complain of increased violence against their communities.

At least 10 Muslim men have been lynched, and many injured, by Hindu 'cow protection' vigilantes.

The ecumenical forum Persecution Relief in 2017 recorded 600 incidents of violence against Christians, including the destruction of churches, threats and harassment, social boycotts, hate campaigns, abductions, murders and attempted murders.

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