Over three weeks have passed since Najeeb Ahmed, a biotechnology student at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), went missing after a scuffle on campus with activists of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
According to reports, Ahmed, a resident of Badaun in Uttar Pradesh, got into a fight with ABVP members on the night of 14-15 October, following which he called his mother in distress, crying that he wanted to leave the hostel. His mother, Fatima Nafees, asked him to hold on until she reached him the next morning, but by the time she arrived, there was no sign of him.
So far, other than dragging his family through a series of indignities, the police have made little headway into the investigation. Ahmed's sister was called to identify a body crawling over with worms which was believed to have been her brother's. It turned out to be a false alarm. When his mother joined the protest against his disappearance, the police assaulted and detained her along with the other students.
After much water had flown, Home Minister Rajnath Singh met Nafees and assured her of full assistance to find her missing son. The family, wisely enough, didn't want to rely solely on his much-belated promise and moved Delhi High Court seeking clarifications on the police probe.
Since then, the police added a new twist to the plot. Ahmed, they claim, was 'mentally disturbed', and on medication for depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. A report in The Times of India today says the police now believe that Ahmed is hiding under an assumed name and identity — both of which are results of his mental health problems.
Doctors have apparently told the police that Ahmed's condition, as well as the medications he was on, may have triggered in him a desire to distance himself from everyone, including his own family. Armed with this knowledge, the police have sent a team to verify the identity of a person resembling Ahmed, who had been reportedly seen in a small town in Bihar's Darbhanga district recently.
Some of the physicians who spoke to the police have given out details of Ahmed's exact syndromes which may have compromised the confidentiality patients have with the medical community, especially when it comes to sensitive cases of mental illness.
While the custodians of law and order indulge in speculations, we are no closer in learning the truth about Najeeb Ahmed.
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