“Today, we are at crossroads where we are sitting with a woman whose husband, Tabrez Ansari, has been beaten to death. Neither the police nor the courts registered a case. He was not just killed by those who thrashed him; Tabrez was killed by the institutions of this country.
Also, at the same time, we are sitting with a mother whose son has disappeared, and with a sister whose sister has been shot dead.”
Noted author Arundhati Roy said these words at a protest held at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday called by Fatima Nafis — mother of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmad, along with Shaista Parveen — wife of Tabrez Ansari; Kavita Lankesh — sister of Gauri Lankesh, and Rajni Singh ؙ— wife of inspector Subodh Kumar.
In her speech, Roy said, “The coming times are going to be the greatest test for all. The government has destroyed all institutions. And we no longer understand whether the earth will be earth and the sky will be sky.”
Apoorvaand, Delhi University professor, said, “I would not at this time, say that Najeeb is forcibly disappeared because I do not know. It is not my duty. It is the duty of the police, the CBI to find what had happened.”
However, he added that no institution is interested in finding Najeeb or ensuring justice for those who are killed demanding justice. “It means they do not value our lives. The question then arises, if you do not value me, how do you expect me to respect you?”
Fatima Nafis reiterated her demand that the government ensure safe return of her son Najeeb.
Shaista, who could barely speak, said in a broken voice, “All of you know very well how my husband was beaten to death. I came to Delhi all the way from Jharkhand and have been running from pillar to post to demand justice for him only to find it nowhere.”
The protest was attended by many students from University of Delhi, Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University.
“I am here for myself. I came to ensure that whatever little space of protest is remaining, we can make use of it,” said a woman student of Miranda House college.
“A student can be disappeared from the prime university of India and this is simply not acceptable,” said a Kashmiri student studying in Miranda House.
Slam poet Sabika Naqvi said, “Why should the onus of raising one’s voice fall on the shoulder of the already oppressed and marginalised?”
“All of us who are speaking will forget it in a day or two. This routine of forgetting must end,” she added.
Arundhati painted a picture of what society we are living in and said, “Lynching, killing and disappearances are the symptoms of a very, very big disease. And we are living in a society at a moment, which is very, very sick.”
Fatima Nafis, in her powerful speech, said: “A mother will win, the government will lose. Najeeb will be brought back.”