He was a mama’s boy. He may have graduated in biotechnology and secured admission to a postgraduate course in Jawaharlal Nehru University, but a part of Najeeb refused to grow up and cope with a difficult world. He was not even comfortable using the ATM card he had, unlike most of his generation. His mother knew the PIN code and knowing Najeeb’s reluctance to use the ATM, she had shoved Rs 1,500 in cash in his pocket when he left Badaun barely 10 days before he went missing. His wallet and his ATM card, even his mobile phone were lying in his room. And a month after he disappeared on October 15, there had been no transaction in his bank account.
Acquaintances say he was ‘different’. He was a young man of few words, kept to himself and spoke little. An acquaintance recalls that one day they were walking together when she asked him to wait and went inside a building. She got delayed there and went out from a different gate, assuming that Najeeb would have left by then. But two hours later she found him still waiting where she had left him.
This then is the profile of the student who is accused of having ‘slapped’ one of the three ABVP members who had gone to his room at 11 pm to canvass for his vote in a hostel-related election. Others have claimed that it was Najeeb who had been assaulted following an altercation—nobody is quite sure about what—that he was the one who was locked up in his own room and beaten; that he was then threatened with expulsion for resorting to violence.
What is still not disputed is that at 2 am in the night he called up his mother and asked her to rush to JNU. He had been assaulted, he said, and he was scared of going back to his hostel. With whom was he when he made that call ? Where did he spend the night ? And why did the hostel warden not ensure that he stayed the night with someone he trusted?
What is also not disputed is that his mother left for Delhi at 4 am and reached Anand Vihar bus stand by 11 am when she called him to inform that she had arrived. But by the time it took for her to reach JNU, he seemed to have disappeared with nobody able to say anything about where he could have gone.
It has been suggested that he could have been suffering from depression or even Schizophrenia, which would explain his erratic behaviour and act of walking away. It would also then be able to scotch all talk of abduction. The family members of Najeeb have admitted that he suffered from insomnia and had consulted psychiatrists at NIMHANS in Bengaluru.
So, the million rupee questions still have no answer. Is Najeeb alive? Did he commit suicide? Was he abducted and is he kept in confinement? Is he hiding somewhere as some of his acquaintances apprehend, or could he have been killed? The possibility of murder, believe JNU students, appears slim
Schizophrenia is a genetic disorder but does not always come in the way of leading normal lives. Indeed many Schizophrenics are extremely talented, sensitive and even successful. What is more, to assume that Najeeb had a ‘normal’ conversation with his mother at 11 am and then suddenly got so disoriented that he walked out of the campus and disappeared appears a little far-fetched.
So, the million rupee questions still have no answer. Is he alive? Did he commit suicide? Was he abducted and is he kept in confinement? Is he hiding somewhere as some of his acquaintances apprehend, or could he have been killed? The possibility of murder, believe JNU students, appears slim because it would have been near impossible to hide the body for so long. Also, the students agree that even the most radical of students on the campus have neither the inclination nor the ability to pull off a crime of such magnitude.
The strange case of Najeeb, in the wake of the suicide by research scholar Rohith Vemula at the Hyderabad Central University, indicate the growing distance between university administration and students. The failure of the administration in providing a healing touch, anticipating trouble and provide a protective arm to those who are vulnerable is glaring.
Meanwhile, the case awaits a Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot to crack it even as most people on the campus pray for his safe return.