By Urdu Media Monitor
“This hurt is nothing in comparison to the hurt I have been going through for the last 23 days, the hurt of separation from my son. Where is my child? Bring my child. I want nothing else. Bring to me my Najeeb. This has been too many days. I can’t take it anymore. Bring me my Najeeb!’ With these moving and painful words starts a programme by Ravish Kumar, perhaps the tallest icon and most popular, courageous and respectable symbol of objective, fair, and honest TV journalism in India.
This interview was conducted after the sister and mother of Najeeb—a JNU student was beaten, tortured and kidnapped, by the fascist Hindutva student body ABVP, and missing since 15 August— were manhandled by the Delhi Police last week.
Neither Najeeb’s alleged kidnappers have been interrogated by the police nor any serious effort seems to have been made to know his fate and whereabouts. One wonders why the police, that is so agile in finding Muslim youths as the culprits behind every bomb blast in the country and presenting them before the media, has been unable to show that level of efficiency in this regard.
For a moment forget about the denial of justice to Muslim widows of Gujarat and Muzaffanagar, please see the photographs, and the clips, of how Najeeb’s mother and sister were treated under the nose of our ‘sab ka saath sab ka vikas’ claiming Prime Minister, the poor chap who spends sleepless nights for the Muslim women. The Prime Minister, who only last month was crying for the welfare of Muslim women, will do nothing for a lone Muslim mother wandering on the streets of Delhi in search of her son and running from pillar to post while her story is being reported by the media almost daily.
For those who cannot understand Urdu/Hindi, Urdu Media Monitor is presenting below a translated version of Ravish Kumar’s interview with Najeeb’s mother, sister, and brother.
In his usual serious style Ravish Kumar introduces his programme in these words, “Everywhere in the world and at all times, the issue is being discussed of what should be the nature of relationship between a state, its government, and the people. The government has to keep trying to assure the public that it is for them. Whenever this sense of relationship weakens, the situation becomes very painful.
“Whenever a common man demands justice from the state and its sectors, that scene appears to have been magnified because at that moment we and you start putting the state to a test to see how is it helping the common man and how respectful and efficient it is towards solving his problems.
“On Saturday night you will have seen on TV channels, and on Monday on newspaper pages, a photograph in which police is dragging and arresting the mother of Najeeb, a missing student of JNU.
“This situation shows the insensitivity towards the pain of a mother at the disappearance of her son missing for 20-22 days; and the display of its power by the police can be frightening for any citizen. It can be any mother. Her name doesn’t have to be Fatima. Her name could be Kamlesh too. At a point when this [use and display of power and authority] becomes the habit of the state, then it breaks its relationship with the people and starts intimidating them. This is what is happening in this case.
“We put our fears and apprehensions aside. We will not forget these apprehensions though. Her voice and complaints have been raised at various forums. But this is the first time that she is appearing on Prime Time. Today we want you to meet Najeeb’s mother, Fatima ji.
“[The scenes of her arrest] have been very disturbing for me. Although the police have been giving clarifications that they took Fatima ji to the police station with great honour and then escorted her to her residence.
“I can show you these photographs and if this is what one calls ‘honour’ then I appeal to all of you to write to the police asking them to give such an honour to you too.”
[UMM is leaving formal discussion between Ravish Kumar and Najeeb’s mother, sister, and brother. Following are questions and answers.]
Ravish K: Fatima Ji, tell us what happened yesterday?
Mother: As we came out of the car, there were about 4-5 young men with me, police personnel were already there. They jumped at the youths and started dragging them. They started pushing and shoving these youngsters as if they were criminals. I asked them, ‘Why are you doing this? They are not doing anything wrong. They are only standing here silently. They haven’t committed any crime. Go and get those who have committed the crime. They are roaming around freely. Why don’t you apprehend them? You are not looking for Najeeb. We are not doing any wrong. We have come only to sit here. We have come to raise our voice. Why are you behaving like this?’ Then the lady police women caught me and said, ‘Come with us, Mataji.’
I asked her, ‘But why should I come with you? What crime have I committed? I have come with these youths. They are my voice. I am standing here with them. You cannot push and beat them up like this.’ Then they used force and dragged me. You will have seen this. I hardly need to tell this. My whole body and my bones are aching. I have not been able to sleep in the night because of this. They pushed me so badly in the bus. They kept on driving and left us in a far away police station.
Ravish K: Did they say anything inside the vehicle?
Mother: No. In the bus I said to them, ‘Don’t you dare touch these youngsters.’ They said, ‘We are not doing anything to them.’ I said, ‘We were calm there and are calm here as well. What was I doing there? I am merely protesting for my son. My child has been missing for the last 23 days. This is the 24th day today. Where is my Najeeb? Why don’t you bring him? Find out where he is. You have deployed so many police personnel for us. You should have done it the first day [to find out Najeeb] when I was crying outside the police station…I have been running from post to pillar. I am tired. It has been 24 days since my child disappeared. They should give me some clue where he is. Let someone say that he has seen Najeeb somewhere. But no one is saying anything.
What the hell has the police been doing for 24 days. I have always heard that Delhi police is very active and efficient. They haven’t done anything in these 24 days. Let them find out my Najeeb. An innocent boy was beaten so mercilessly. No treatment was given to him. Soaked in blood he went to Safdarjang Hospital but they didn’t give him any treatment. Why did the doctors not treat him? Police complaint could have been filed later. Had they admitted him there, my child would have not faced what he faced [sobs and cries]. Had the doctors displayed some sense of responsibility I would not be running on the streets of Delhi like this and my child would be near me. Why was he not treated? Where is my child? Let someone tell me [sobs and cries].
It has been 24 days. Where do I go to look for my Najeeb? Let someone come and tell me where he is [sobs and cries].
Brother: We were not there. But his roommate Qasim and another hostel mate Shaad took him to hospital by JNU’s ambulance. They had the driver and an attendant with them. This is what they have told us.
When they reached the hospital they were told that that was a police case and no treatment would be given without a police complaint.
As Bhai [brother] had been so brutally beaten up, he was scared. And any simple guy like him would have apprehensions about going to police and filing a complaint. So he said, ‘No’.
Ravish K: Was his a life-threatening condition at that time?
Brother: Yes. He was attacked four times and mercilessly beaten. They used the bracelet wearing in their hands to punch him. What can I say? He was beaten up so mercilessly and was bleeding in his head and from nose.
Ravish K: Where did he go from the hospital? Where did he disappear from? What do the boys who took him to hospital say?
Mother: Najeeb called me from the hospital at 2 am. ‘What are you doing at 2 am, Najeeb?’ I asked him. He said, ‘Mum, other boys entered my room and have beaten me up…I have been brought to hospital, Safdarjung, for medical and I have had injuries.’ I asked, ‘Where do you have injuries and who has beaten you?’ Then he switched off his phone. Then I phoned his partner, Qasim. He said, ‘Auntie, he has been beaten up very badly. But you don’t worry so much. He is saying, “I want to go to Mum”.
I told them you look after Najeeb; I am leaving [for Delhi] just now. They also said that the boys had also filed a case against Najeeb for trying to incite a Hindu-Muslim riot here and Najeeb is panicking.
I said, ‘Don’t worry I am coming. And then and there we left for Delhi as all of us had woken up by then. I took a bag and I and my son took a bus. I was constantly in touch with Najeeb during the journey. I talked to Najeeb and Qasim. I phoned him from Bulandshahar at about 9-9.30. Last time, I phoned him from Anand Vihar and told him that I had reached Anand Vihar. He was in the hostel at that time.
When I reached the hostel, at about 12.30 or 1.00 pm, my Najeeb was not there. One of his slippers was lying on the ground floor on the stairs. Mujeeb was with me. I said to him that these were Mujeeb’s slippers. ‘Don’t worry. Bhai must be in his room.’ I went to his room and opened the door and saw his partner sitting there. ‘Where is Najeeb?’ I asked him. ‘You sit here. He must be somewhere around and must be coming soon,’ he said. I said, ‘Where is he? Call him.’ He asked me to sit down. I sat and waited for half an hour, then one hour. Then I asked Mujeeb to go out and look for him as I thought he might be waiting for me. He went out and other boys who had gathered there after hearing me cry. They also went out to look for him but he couldn’t be found anywhere. Crying and sobbing, I waited until 4 o’ clock. Other boys came and took me to another room assuring me, ‘Auntie, we are going to look for him.’ They went around and looked everywhere in the campus but couldn’t find him.
Ravish K: During this time, when his partner was still in the room and told you that he had left only a while ago. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to come out of the campus, did no one see him?
Brother: No, no one saw him and no one knows where he has gone. The warden said, after two days, that he had seen him from his residence going in an auto.
Sister: But the boys say that the warden could not have seen him from his residence and in order to see him he would have needed to come out of his house.
Brother: The warden is protecting the culprits. They beat him in the presence of chief warden, in the presence of President of JNU Students Union, in the presence of security guards. And no one even tried to protect him.
Ravish K: Even after the occurrence of such a major incident, JNU Students Union president did not go to the hospital?
Sister: He didn’t go but he did try to protect him.
Ravish K: But after such a serious incident none of them went with him to the hospital?
Brother: Not many people are allowed to go in an ambulance. As many of them who could, they did go. Even Mohit, who tried to protect him, was beaten up. The chief warden says that he himself has had injuries.
Ravish K: How many were the attackers?
Brother: Initially they were three. They went into the room and no one knows what happened there. Shahid Bhai was on the upper floor. When he heard the noise, he came down and saw a mob coming. Shahid Bhai locked him inside the room. But when he came out of the room, they beat him again. Then he locked him in the bathroom.
Mother: His nose was bleeding. He took him to wash his face. But a boy force-entered the room and beat him again. Then came the warden. Even in his presence he was beaten. The warden and security guards said let’s take him to the warden’s room. The warden and the security walked behind him and he was again beaten in their presence. They dragged him downstairs.
Brother: It is the account given by his friends.
Sister: This is an eyewitness account signed by 23 boys. The question that keeps coming in my mind, Sir, is that the discussion is going on about Najeeb in newspapers and the media that how may Facebook accounts did he have, how many followers did he have, etc. But no one has discussed about the background of the three assailants.
Ravish K: Who are these three assailants? Tell us to our viewers.
Sister: Ankit, Vikrant and …. [inaudible]
Ravish K: Has their version been presented anywhere?
Sister: No one is talking about them and their background. Everything is being discussed about Najeeb i.e. what type of a boy he was, where did he get his education and if he was quarrelsome. Their [assailants’] background should also be brought to light.
Ravish K: So when the mob came, did Najeeb’s friend not recognise them?
Brother: Everyone recognised them. Many were non-residents.
Sister: In our press conference, we presented photographs as well.
Ravish K: You have met police officers several times. Have they told you if they have interrogated the accused?
Sister: They said their initial view and focus was that Najeeb has himself gone somewhere. And because on his Facebook there was a photograph of a dargah, they started looking for him at dargahs.
Ravish K: Well, they might have focused on him because he was beaten. But did they not focus on those who had beaten him?
Sister: No. And they are not focussing on this yet.
Brother: He was given a threat. They said to the warden, ‘You don’t do anything, sir. Give him to us and you will get his dead body in the morning.’ They passed most filthy remarks. Naturally suspicion would go on the person giving such a threat but they are not being questioned.
Ravish K: So the police have not even told you that they had interrogated them and that there was no case against them?
Sister: Last time when we spoke to them, they said, ‘We have talked to them and they couldn’t do such a thing.’
Ravish K: What made the police so convinced that they couldn’t do this? Why did Najeeb go to hospital?
Sister: I read in newspapers, in Hindustan Times, that the guys had been interrogated.
Ravish K: Newspaper report is one thing. You have been going to them. Have they said it to you too?
Brother: They have said they have talked to them but have not done [proper interrogation] as is done by the police.
Sister: No one has been arrested to date. Those who beat him are there in the campus. Talking [in an easy and calm atmosphere] is one thing. Take them in custody and do proper interrogation. Those who are involved in it and because of whom Najeeb was beaten have not been arrested. Those who had given the threat to make him disappear and kill him and had asked him to be handed to them are roaming free in the campus. In fact, in front of other students they pose to be bolder and puffed up.
Ravish K: Have the police taken statements from Najeeb’s friends?
Brother: He didn’t have any friend.
Sister: He had joined the hostel only two weeks ago, in August.
Ravish K: Oh, he was not a senior student and had come to a hostel, in JNU, in August, for the first time?
Brother: He came only on 13 of Aug and on the night of 14 the incident occurred. Before that we had rented a flat and were living there. We said to him, ‘You are a simpleton. The atmosphere of a hostel won’t suit you.’ But he said commuting from Okhla was very time consuming and was affecting his studies and ‘hostel will be a better option for him.’
Ravish K: So this was his first semester? Where was he studying before?
Brother: Bareilly… He did B.Sc. Bio-Tech.
Ravish K: And he competed to get admission here.
Brother: He was offered place by four universities including Jamia and Aligarh.
Sister: He had joined Jamia but when he got an offer from JNU he was pleased and said this is good and joined JNU. He had also joined B.Sc at Aligarh to prepare for medical but then changed his mind.
Mujeeb: On the 15th when we went to the police station to file a complaint, there was a SHO [name inaudible]. When I started writing, he said, ‘No. Do you know more? It’s me who will be going to the court. I know how to handle it. You write as I dictate.’ It happened six or seven times that I had to ask him to let me write as I wanted but he kept insisting to write as he wanted. I wanted to write down the names of the accused but he didn’t let me write it. He made me write it as he wanted.
Ravish K: You wanted to write the names of the accused in the FIR and he didn’t let you write it?
Brother: No, he didn’t.
Sister: They registered it as a case of missing person.
Mother: [Crying] I told him about the slippers of my child. I showed him the slippers there and said, ‘Look, these are the slippers of my child lying over there’ but he didn’t write it in the report.
Ravish K: So, the police did not write in the FIR?
Mother: No [inaudible as she can’t control herself and cries]
Brother: Even after so many days no one from the JNU administration has contacted us. Neither the VC, nor the proctor nor the warden have met us.
Ravish K: When was the last time when you met them? From their statements it seems that they are so concerned about you and have been looking for Najeeb.
Sister: After three days of the incident we went to see them. We were stopped by the guard and had to force ourselves in.
Ravish K: The incident occurred on 15th. So you saw them on 18th or 19th?
Sister: Yes. But we had to make efforts for this meeting. They met my mother and our lawyer. Next day we again went to see the proctor. The Proctor didn’t see us. We requested to take us to the VC as we don’t know where the VC office in JNU is.
Ravish K: How big is the proctor’s post? Why did he not see you?
Sister: No one was willing to see us. I have the recording of that. If you want, I can show you how we kept standing there and kept insisting that we have to see him. When we started raising our voices then he called for us and talked to us. We talked for about half an hour in which we asked, ‘Why are you not filing FIR on behalf of the university administration? No matter if you give Najeeb’s name in it. There was a scuffle, report it.’
Ravish K: Oh, this is a new dimension! Even the FIR has been registered by you; not the JNU?
Sister: No, JNU has not done anything.
Ravish K: The VC is claiming he is helping in the search. What does it mean then?
Sister: In the report they have given they have described Najeeb as an accused. He was beaten in such a merciless manner; yet he is an accused! When I demanded him to file an FIR, he said there is no provision under which you can file a counter FIR. When I asked if he had sought legal advice he said, ‘Oh, we forgot to do so. We will do it.’ Then I said you get legal advice and we will wait for your call.
Ravish K: But the VC says you surrounded him and he had to face such a difficult situation.
Sister: No this is about the other day. But when we talked to the VC we requested him to enquire about the provision. We said you can file FIR.
Ravish K: So, he said the University cannot file FIR?
Sister: He said a second FIR cannot be filed. We said if you do not want to file an FIR along with our FIR, file a separate FIR. But he didn’t agree to that.
Ravish K: This is a legal and technical issue and we cannot say if a second FIR can be filed or not. But after that has he called you to give you any update?
Sister: No. He hasn’t.
Ravish K: You are saying it on record that the VC has not called you to comfort, assure, and update you.
Sister: No. He hasn’t called us.
Ravish K: But from the media reports it looks as if he is very much concerned.
Sister: When we asked him to call us again as we don’t know his door. This is his obligation to do so. Next day I waited until 6.30 pm and sat on the floor outside the proctor’s office in the admin bloc. When they didn’t call, we then forced ourselves in. It was the Assistant Proctor, or someone else, who then talked to us. He asked us to see the rector. I said, ‘If you don’t talk to us, we will come in your office.’ Then the Proctor came and took us to the Rector. We talked to the Rector and only to fulfill a formality he asked his legal advisor to come and talk to us.
That day we had been to the mortuary and had seen a dead body [to identify it] and were in psychological trauma.
We asked him if he was going to register FIR or not because we have also enquired about it and FIR can be registered. He said he won’t register FIR. ‘Why should I file FIR? I was not present there.’ He said.
Ravish K: Sadaf, from what you are saying I get the impression that they told you that JNU had some problem in registering FIR. I want to clarify this point and want to make it clear to my viewers that the VC did not make a single phone call to appraise you about the situation.
Sister: Only once did we receive a call, Sir, just 15 minutes before we were about to start the press conference, saying the VC wanted to talk to the Mother. We said we are about to start the press conference and we cannot talk now. After that we did not receive a single call.
Mujeeb: That was to disturb and stop the press conference.
Ravish K: So after that he did not call you. Never said to you why are you running here and there, come and talk to me. If he is your son he is my student too and I am worried about him. I have talked to the police.
Sister: He did say that he is in contact with the police. At that I asked him, ‘Why are you not filing a complaint against the assailants? Why are you protecting them? File a complaint saying that they beat him. Even [for the sake of argument] if Najeeb punched once, how much did they beat him, tell the police. Najeeb has not been found and we do not know if he had hit them or not.’
Ravish K: [Giving his opinion and addressing the viewers] There are two issues involved here. 1) If the University administration says that the quarrel arose because of Najeeb, such a report cannot be regarded as a final version. He has the right to live. Those who beat [and kidnapped/hid] him cannot be right. Whether the University has justified the action of the mob, it needs to be checked. What I find strange is that not even a single time, except when they were going to hold the press conference, has the Vice Chancellor called and tried to comfort them.
What a common man needs to understand is that this is how heads of institutions generally treat a common man. If you approve, in any way, what has happened with this family, then you are preparing a ground for [similar consequences] for your own children.
Anyone can get involved in a dispute in a university. It can be anyone with any name. But the boy for whom search has been going on for 24 days, we see his mother on the media running from pillar to post and then being dragged and manhandled by the police. What we have not been able to see is that she is sitting and talking to and being comforted by the Vice Chancellor. If the Vice Chancellor has such a photograph, except the first meeting, let him show it to us and we will show it on Prime Time.
If the police wants to give any clarification about what they have said in this programme and want to give the details of any interrogation with the accused [we will show it too].
Is what they are saying, that they were stopped from naming the accused in the FIR, true? Is it how FIR is registered i.e. only what the officer dictates will be written? Or is it what the complainant says will be written down?
Is what the mother has alleged— that she saw Najeeb’s slipper in the corridor of the University and wanted it to be written in the FIR—was deliberately missed out?
The Police and the Vice Chancellor must respond to these allegations. If they do not want to respond—there is already an atmosphere in the country of intolerance against being questioned—then this is a different issue.
By not answering they are very safe. Millions of students are studying in various universities of the country. If we agree with and approve such a trend and mind-set, then think again about your action.
Does it not affect you that it has been 24 days since the incident occurred and the Vice Chancellor’s beautiful statements are appearing in the press [and no contact has been made with the victim’s family]. It was through the media that I had formed an impression that they are very efficient and that the students are being impatient. Sometimes the police do need time in such matters. And it can happen, we should admit it. But if the vice chancellor does not call the victim’s family in his room, does not give any comfort and assurance to them. [Turns to Najeeb’s sister and asks] Is what you are saying true?
Sister: We went ourselves and forced ourselves in. He didn’t call us. All of the three times we went ourselves. He did not call us even a single time.
Ravish K: [To the viewers] Now you can see. If she goes on the road she is accused of causing traffic jam. Think about it and decide for yourself if you can ever be in a situation when you will be facing a problem and protesting to the authorities, should, then, such a treatment be meted out to you?
Sister: Protest had not even started then. We had only got off the cars and stood on the pavement when police vehicles started appearing from which police personnel started jumping out. I was standing with my brother and his friends. JNU students had not even reached there at that time. They started taking the boys away when my mum asked why they were doing that. The manner in which they manhandled my mother has already been covered in the media.
I was scared thinking if they are doing it to my mother what would they do to me. So I tried to hide behind a tree. Then 3-4 lay police constables came and a policeman in civilian dress ordered them, ‘Uthao is ko’. [Take her away]. ‘What have I done? Have I committed robbery or theft? Why would you arrest me? This is my right. I can stand here on this footpath. Am I shouting slogans? What am I doing?’ I asked them. He shouted, ‘We don’t want to hear anything. Uthao, uthao isko.’ They used force to take me away and a police lady pushed me when I got hurt and injured my hand. I can’t move my finger. I will show it to the doctor.’ [showing her bandaged hand].
Ravish K: What do you mean by pushing? Did they use force?
Sister: They pushed me and I fell down on the road and my slipper went under the bus. I can be seen in the video shouting, ‘You pushed me and now you will have to bring my slipper.’ It was then I got hurt and my mother was also hurt.
Ravish K: The Police authorities have given a statement saying that Najeeb’s mother was treated with great respect and because she lay there they only lifted her.
Sister: Everyone has seen it how respectful they were. Media was there and have recorded what has happened.
Brother: Not only our family members, they misbehaved with everyone who was with us. Even after detaining us, they punched our friends in the stomach.
Sister: A photograph has been published in a newspaper today in which a policeman can be seen arresting a girl in an indecent manner. In it, it can be seen where his hand is. They say it was a police woman but we have the photograph. I don’t understand which world I am living in.
Ravish K: How many times have you guys protested like this?
Brother: [Mentions few places]
Ravish K: [To the viewers] I can’t understand. As a matter of fact I am not surprised. When the JNU has called many students and all of them have expressed their views. In spite of it, if it is true that the Vice Chancellor has never called them, except a phone call before the press conference, all the three times they themselves went to see him. If you think what the Vice Chancellor did was right. I also agree with you that what he did was right. But if it ever happens to your own child would you then also say that what the VC did was right? At that time if I say the VC did was right and that let his mother and father run around, would you then say what he is saying is right?
This is not a question of Najeeb and his mother. This is a question of the relationship between the state and a common man. And who are the representatives of the government? The SHO who is registering the FIR. The SSP or the DC who would be overseeing the inquiry into this issue and the Vice Chancellor in whose institution he became a student for the first time. [If you approve it] I want to know under how many layers [of prejudice and hatred] have your feelings been buried not to be affected by incidents like this?
Do you accept that in future when a student disappears this is how the university authorities should behave?
I hope that the University administration would send its response on this because a trend has been introduced in which you cannot question the authorities.
If you give such a latitude to authorities through various arguments, then you will harm yourself.
Think what type of students of JNU are who are braving police sticks for a boy about whom they did not even have a proper introduction. They must have some good qualities. But the media is presenting them as trouble makers.
Imagine if your own son disappears from an institution. Incidents like this do occur. If no one comes to support and protest with you, would you praise and congratulate such students for their ‘excellent behaviour’? Would you say, ‘Well done. My son was killed and you kept concentrating on your studies. What you did was excellent.’
Look at these boys in the video and think how wrong can they be In asking to find out about a student they do not even know?
The story is reproduced from Urdu Media Monitor.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘The Idea of the University’, edited by Dr. Debaditya Bhattacharya, University of Calcutta, India.