‘I believe Najeeb will walk in one day’

For Fatima Nafees, belief that her son will come back is the only recourse. She questions the lack of safety on college campuses.

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Fatima Nafees

Najeeb will come back. I believe he will just walk in one day. Whoever has kidnapped him will realise how innocent how he is. He always had a peaceful temperament. He is just like a sufi. He would never hurt anybody or anything.

Of all my children, he gave me the least trouble. He was close to me and my younger son Haseeb the most. He would always discuss everything with me. He is my oldest. I have two other sons and a daughter. But, he was my anchor; my happiness.

We come from a middle-class family in Badaun. I married in 1987 and my husband is almost 20 years older than me. He hasn’t been well for a few years now. In 2009, he had a debilitating accident which left him paralysed. And after Najeeb has gone missing, he has been mentally disturbed. So, no one works now. Mujeeb has just completed his M.Tech in Applied Geology and has been searching for a job. The case has consumed him too. Most of our time goes in the case

After the birth of my daughter, we had set some money aside and invested in some land. Now, we have sold some of that and we are living off that money. We used to have an oil business, but that has also been shut down because there is no one to monitor it.

I have studied just enough to be able to read and write. We wanted all our children to be educated. Najeeb was always a focussed child. He wanted to become a doctor. He wrote the AIPMT (All India Pre-Medical test) and CPMT-UP (Combined Pre-Medical Test) five times. He always cleared the prelims and in the mains his rank would have got him a BDS seat, but he didn’t want that. All this was before NEET became the clearance exam. Subsequently he completed his graduation in biotechnology and his application for post-graduation was accepted by Jamila Millia Islamia University, Hamdard University, Aligarh Muslim University and JNU.

Najeeb wanted to join JNU. He wanted to study in a well-reputed university and then go abroad. I didn’t want him to join there. It was only at his insistence that we agreed. We wanted him to study at Jamila Millia Islamia University.

Education is the only equalising factor that we have. If we can’t send our children to colleges and expect them to be safe, then where will they be safe? How can parents send their children away from home then? And if we don’t educate our children, how will they have a better future than us. How will we progress?

The last time I spoke to Najeeb was noon on October 15, 2016, and I was at the anand Vihar bus station. He had called me the night before saying that he had a scuffle with some Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad activists. And by the time, I reached the university, he had gone missing.

The struggle began then. The SI at the Vasant Kunj police station, Sandeep Kumar, didn’t allow us to write the complaint according to how I wanted. They made everyone go out and allowed only Mujeeb, my second son, and me in the station. They didn’t allow us to name the ABVP activists – Vikrant, Ankit and Sunil. These were the boys who had beaten him up initially. If I had mentioned these names in the FIR, then at least some people would have been questioned. Now, there has been no progress. The case has been transferred to the CBI and they have lodged the same status report since the last time.

The more delayed it gets, the more dangerous the situation will become. I have tried to meet the leaders, but no one is willing to meet me. Where are our leaders?

(As told to Ashlin Mathew)

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