New Delhi: Concerned over continued disappearance of a JNU student for nearly two months, Delhi High Court directed the police on Wednesday to “scan” the entire campus, including hostels, classrooms and rooftops, of the varsity by using sniffer dogs. A bench of justices GS Sistani and Vinod Goel also asked Delhi Police to take all necessary steps without further loss of time to trace out the student – Najeeb Ahmed, saying there has been delay in recording statements of some students suspected of thrashing him a day before his disappearance.
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and its student union, JNUSU, were asked by the bench to file affidavits in two days stating they have no objection to the “thorough search” and that all assistance would be provided to the police. The court also said the police was free to search Jamia Millia University also, if required. In case of any resistance or objection to it from the varsity or its students, the agency could approach the court for permission.
The bench said it was not concerned about which students union did what and it was not on a fact-finding mission regarding what JNU did wrong or right. “We are only concerned with where he has vanished,” it said. The directions came on the habeus corpus plea by Najeeb’s mother, Fatima Nafees, who has moved court to trace out her son who has been missing since the intervening night of October 14-15. The matter was listed for further hearing on December 22.
The lawyer for Najeeb’s mother contended that the police was “bypassing” the abduction angle and it appeared that the agency was moving on the theory that something was mentally wrong with the student as he just walked out of the campus.
Delhi Police, represented by senior standing counsel for Delhi government Rahul Mehra, refuted the allegations and told the court that it was exploring all angles, including abduction, and was not hiding any details of the probe from the student’s mother.
Mehra also said four students, who are suspected of beating up Najeeb, would be put to lie-detector tests to get leads or clues about his disappearance and whereabouts. The police expected to get results in the next 10 days, he said. The mother’s lawyer, during arguments, said the manner in which emphasis of police has shifted from Najeeb being beaten up to him slapping another student and then leaving the campus, indicates that “he may even be dead”.
He said that even JNU’s stand appears to focus on Najeeb slapping a student rather than him being beaten up. While he was expelled from the hostel, the others were only transferred to another hostel as punishment, he said. The lawyer also questioned the police version that an auto driver had dropped off Najeeb at Jamia university, saying no record of autorickshaw registration numbers was maintained at the gates of JNU.
This allegation was refuted by the police which said it had records of autorickshaw numbers of nearly a year and the petitioner could examine it. However, the court asked how such things could help find the missing student as the “bottom line” was to trace him. It was of the view that these accusations would only lead the court to deviate from the main issue of tracing Najeeb.
The court was of the view that Najeeb, who was pursuing MSc in Biotechnology from JNU, could not have just vanished and that he cannot have gone far. It was also of the opinion that the four students who were members of ABVP and accused of thrashing Najeeb, “may be aggressors”, but they might not be the abductors.
It said these students, whose statements were recorded recently by Delhi Police, “do not appear to be experts” who can hide a person for nearly two months. Meanwhile, JNU told the court that a search operation of the campus was carried out by its security guards along with the police, but the cops said they only searched the open areas and were restricted from entering other parts of the varsity.
On December 9, the court had slammed the police for remaining clueless about the whereabouts of Najeeb. On November 28, the High Court had sternly asked the city police to “cut across all political barriers” and find Najeeb.