- Vice Chancellor and other top officials under siege for over 20 hours at JNU
- Students have accused the JNU administration of not doing enough to trace missing student Najeeb Ahmed
- Home Minister Rajnath Singh ordered Delhi Police to set up a special team to trace a missing JNU student
The agitating students, who have been accusing the JNU administration of not doing enough to trace missing student Najeeb Ahmed, said they have decided to change their mode of protest and will no longer confine VC M Jagadesh Kumar and other officials of the university.
Earlier, they allowed the VC and a section of the officials to go out of the administrative building to attend a scheduled meeting of the Academic Council (AC) after not allowing them to move from the office for over 20 hours. The AC meeting was on till late evening.
As the students' protest over the missing student entered the sixth day, the Home Minister directed the Delhi Police to set up a special team to trace Najeeb who went missing on Saturday following a brawl with a group of ABVP supporters in a JNU hostel. Singh called up the Commissioner of Delhi Police and gave the instruction to set up the special team. The students did not allow the VC and around 12 other officials to come out of the administrative building since yesterday afternoon as part of their protest though the media persons were allowed to go inside it.
JNU teachers association, which have been supportive of the students on most of the issues, criticised the confinement of the VC and others. The VC had this morning warned the students of strict action over the "illegal confinement".
Coming down heavily on protesting students, the VC said several rounds of talks were held to convince the students about the sincerity of the university authority to locate Najeeb but they were continuing with their "illegal" activities". "This is a university run in a democratic manner. We value debate and discussion. That's why we had several rounds of discussions with the students to convince them that the university is sincerely working to locate Najeeb Ahmed.
"We have tried every possible means to convince the students that we are trying our best to locate Najeeb. However, they are not relenting and resorting to this kind of illegal means," Kumar said hours before he was allowed to go. He said, "We cannot be coerced by these illegal means.
The university has to be run in a proper manner and the academic activities should not suffer. We again appeal to the students not to resort to this kind of illegal activities which will affect the university." Rejecting allegations of inaction, the VC said the administration had written to the police about the missing student and an inquiry by the university will be expedited and "guilty" punished.
Later, Delhi Police said they have formed a special investigation team (SIT) to trace Najeeb. Commenting on the issue, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, said, "It is wrong to confine VC and other officials. Some students have come in JNU to do politics and not study. All activities should be done within the law." An FIR for kidnapping and wrongfully confining a person was lodged at Vasant Kunj North police station after the police received a complaint from the student's guardians.
The students who had during the day "let out" the VC and officials only to attend the Academic Council meeting, later decided to end the blockade and not use confinement as a method. "We had an all-party meeting and we decided that we will not resort to confinement now even as we will continue with our agitation till Ahmed is found and a proper enquiry is conducted into the entire issue," a member of JNUSU said.
The student groups, however, were divided over changing the strategy of the protest. While BASO and BAPSA, two groups active on campus, were of the opinion of continuing the confinement after the AC meeting, All India Students Association (AISA) opined otherwise.
The confinement of the officials by students attracted criticism from various quarters including JNU Teachers Association, which has been supportive of the students union over past issues raised by them. "Howsoever peaceful the confinement is, it is wrong," JNUTA President Ajay Patnaik said.
Najeeb's mother, who has also joined the student protests, said that she wants her son back and alleged that the administration has been "insensitive" towards her. "Mujhe mera beta lauta do (Return my son to me). I won't demand any action against anybody. I just want him back and I will leave once he is handed over to me," Fatima Nafees told reporters as she broke down sitting outside the JNU's administration block where students have been agitating since five days.
"The administration did not inform us about him being missing on the campus. I came and approached the police myself. We forced our way into VC's office where he just told us that he is trying his best. He has been so insensitive towards us.
"My son is neither politically active nor somebody who messes up with anybody. I cannot even believe he had a scuffle with somebody," she added.
Last Updated 6:40 PM IST