On the 8th of October, the Delhi High Court bench comprising of Justice Muralidhar and Justice Vijay Goel, accepted the closure report to the Habeas Corpus on Najeeb Ahmed, a JNU student who was missing since October 2015. The CBI counsel, Nikhil Goel, told PTI that they have decided to file a closure Report under section 169 which is “release of the accused when evidence is insufficient”. Goel further added that they wanted to bring this to the notice of the High Court and with its approval, they would file the Closure Report in in Delhi’s Patiala Court. “If the petitioner is not willing to accept the closure, they are free to file a protest petition”, he said.
The CBI had maintained that they had not found credible evidence regarding Najeeb Ahmed being assaulted a night before his disappearance and therefore, the case could not proceed further. Accepting the contention, the Delhi High Court directed the counsel for Fatima Nafees, who is Najeeb Ahmed’s mother, to pursue the case in the trial court.
The High Court also refused to form a Court Monitored SIT, as demanded by Fatima Nafees. Senior advocate Colin Gonsalvez who represented Fatima Nafees in the case expressed his displeasure on the verdict. He told TWj, “This seems like another case where CBI came under brazen political pressure. Despite a number of witnesses testifying to the assault that Najeeb had faced in the hands of ABVP activists the previous night, the CBI never took that into cognizance. They never took the nine students who were accused of assaulting Najeeb to custody for a proper interrogation. Moreover, CBI had never even given us the detailed status report since the time it had taken up the case in May 2017”. Gonsalvez said they are definitely going to file a protest petition in the lower court but they are also contemplating going to the Supreme Court in the days to come.
To Fatima Nafees , the judgment came as a rude shock. “They were never serious about the investigation and had stopped meeting me too. They never took the ABVP activists for even questioning and now they are closing the case saying they do not have proof. How will they get proof if they do not investigate?”, asked an exasperated Fatima Nafees in a press conference.
It has been a relentless struggle for Fatima Nafees since 15th October 2016, the day Najeeb Ahmed disappeared from JNU. A night before, he had called her stating his anguish and fear after being thrashed by several students who were affiliated to the ABVP. She then took the first available bus from their hometown Badaun, UP to Delhi and even spoke to him on the morning of 15th of October, By the time she arrived at his hostel in JNU, he was missing. He has been untraceable since then. The ordeal to find her missing son began then.
From the very beginning, the Police did not follow protocol duties concerning a missing person, case. Sniffer dogs weren’t used nor was the campus combed to get any clue regarding the missing student. This was only conducted after a month when the High Court had admonished the Delhi Police from doing its duty. False leads began appearing in the news saying Najeeb had taken an auto and gone towards Jamia Millia Islamia and had been spotted in a dargah at Darbhanga. A section of the media also published baseless stories where they stated that Najeeb was searching ISIS on google before disappearing. This was first published in Times of India which was later picked up by other news channels and papers.
In May 2018, Fatima Nafees filed a defamation suit worth 2.2 crore against these news channels. In the first hearing while her statement was being recorded, the judge abruptly stopped her when she named the first accused as Times of India. In the next hearing that was scheduled for 14th of September, it was reported that the file has gone missing from the Patiala court.
Even after facing so many hardships, Fatima Nafees has vowed to not give up her fight for justice. She told TWJ that she was dejected and heartbroken after the High Court accepted the closure Report but she saw it as the next phase of struggle. “The CBI will file the status report of the investigation and we will file protest petition against the closure”.
Meanwhile, Fatima Nafees has given a call for a Protest March on the 15th of October, which marks two years of Najeeb’s disappearance.