Student Disappearance Puts Spotlight on Communally-charged Atmosphere in JNU
Students seen gathered around the Mahi Mandavi hostel.
New Delhi: The disappearance of a JNU student after altercation with his ABVP hostel-mates point towards the communally-charged atmosphere of the Mahi Mandavi hostel that is home to freshers, according to University students and faculty.
A first-year biotechnology student, Najeeb Ahmed, went missing on Friday, days before the hostel elections.
Delhi Police has filed an FIR on charges of kidnapping after his mother Fatima Nafees filed a complaint.
Students who spoke to News18 for this story said the Mahi Mandavi was becoming a cause of worry with communal graffiti on the walls and “targeted attacks on students from particular community".
“There are 450 students living in the hostel, some cases were brought to our notice but we found no evidence. The trend of making such (inflammatory) speeches and actions is disturbing. We are concerned. For this we have held meetings twice in the day; in future also we will hold conferences and workshops and encourage students to not indulge in these activities. We need them to get back to normal hostel life by holding such meetings,” senior warden of Mahi Mandavi, Dr Sushil Kumar, told News18.
Kumar blamed the troubles of the hostel on “lack of senior junior interactions".
“Most of the students residing here are new to campus and they don’t have seniors around to guide them. We have demanded single seaters for the senior students to stay,” he said.
Mahi Mandavi was supposed to have its elections on Monday, where the President and the 12-member hostel committee members were to be elected. The polls have since been postponed after Friday’s incident.
JNU hostel elections are different from the students’ union polls as the candidates may or may not be backed by the political parties. There are other determining factors in winning these elections - like the candidates’ social standing in the hostel.
Girls’ hostels like Ganga and Godavari have already wrapped up the process while the elections in the boys’ hostel Periyar were politically charged.
Mahi Mandavi, one of the hostels left to elect its president, witnessed a strenuous campaign.
JNUSU president Mohit Pandey – of the left-leaning AISA – in a statement said there are concerted efforts to communally polarize the campus and spread rumours about the incident.
“We feel it is pertinent to report the facts of the incident to dispel this rumour-mongering being done by ABVP. The administration has to initiate further steps to ensure the safety of the students and take necessary steps to stop communal polarization of stakeholders of the university.”
ABVP’s Vikrant Kumar, who was campaigning for Mahi Mandavi hostel president’s post, told News18 he had went to Ahmed’s room because his “religious sentiments were hurt for wearing thread on his wrist.”
A JNUSU statement said there was a scuffle between Ahmed and others.
“The residents of the hostel heard the noise and commotion and when they reached Room no 106, they witnessed three students assaulting Ahmed. Worried about his security, the students locked Ahmad in his room first and later in the washroom. It was while he was being taken for meeting the wardens that 10-15 students started intimidating and communal targeting of Ahmed. Those who had come to stop the attack were also assaulted,” the statement said.
The statement said he was subject to communal abuses in the presence of the wardens and security.
Mahi Mandavi Hostel president, Alimuddin Khan, too issued a statement condemning the event and expressing worry on the “political and religious escalation of the whole issue.”
He said that the issue was resolved between the students but due to some external influence it got escalated.
Khan, a PhD scholar in Arabic, said the hostel had always had a harmonious atmosphere with iftars and milans throughout the year.
Another Arabic PhD scholar Hamid Raza, who is contesting for president of the hostel, told News 18 that he had ran for polls before in JNU but it was in Mahi Mandavi where his identity became an impediment.
“In the general body meeting of the hostel, it was pointed out to me that how can I, with a beard and kurta pyjama, represent the hostel. We have lived with amity, there was no such problem, but things are changing, as a handful of people are inclined to spoiling the atmosphere,” he said.
ABVP’s Kumar, who is allegedly one of the students who had had a scuffle with Ahmed, said “the issue is being given a political turn".