An Appeal from the JNU Faculty: the Politics of Polarisation in the Campus Must Stop!

We, the undersigned teachers of JNU, are deeply concerned about the continued absence of Najeeb Ahmad, a student of M.Sc. Biotechnology, who was last reported as seen on JNU campus on 15 October 2016. We express our deepest sympathy and solidarity with Najeeb’s mother, sisters and extended family, and share in their anxiety and despair at the fact that even after ten days of Najeeb’s disappearance, neither the police not the JNU authorities have been able to provide any credible leads to his whereabouts; indeed, both have failed to even keep the JNU community informed of the progress of the search operations.
The JNUTA has repeatedly requested the VC to issue a personal appeal assuring Najeeb complete security and due process and to immediately set up a channel for the dissemination of this information, but to our dismay, the JNU administration has taken no concrete steps in this direction.The very least the JNU administration can do at this juncture is to issue a press release detailing all the steps it has taken thus far in facilitating the search for Najeeb, including its own efforts as well as its communications to the police and other authorities, and thereafter issue daily bulletins on the developments in the search. This willingness to share information with the JNU community and particularly Najeeb’s distraught and anxious mother and family, is absolutely imperative, both as a measure of enforcing accountability as well as to prevent the circulation of unfounded rumours. 
Like all others, we are aware that there are many possible scenarios that Najeeb Ahmad’s continued absence can be a result of. Privileging one or the other of them (such as the ‘abduction’ vs. the ‘in hiding’ hypotheses) is not prudent, as this may lead the search astray. Rather, we appeal to all campus constituents and members of the public in general to supply the police and the JNU authorities with any substantive information they may have with regards to Najeeb’s whereabouts. We offer our support to any member of the JNU community who may be hesitant to approach the police or the JNU administration, just as we have done in the aftermath of the crackdown on JNU students and continue to do (on a number of fronts).
As teachers well acquainted with university-mandated duties and processes, we condemn the JNU administration’s callous handling of the matter to date, starting from the fact that the initial action (now available in the public domain) recommended by the Mahi-Mandavi wardens on 15 October only acted upon the complaint against Najeeb, and did not even record the fact that Najeeb had been subjected to a severe beating by persons who were not involved in the initial altercation, in the presence of several independent eyewitnesses including the wardens. A summary punishment was meted out to Najeeb in an atmosphere that was hardly conducive to any free and fair enquiry. It is against this authoritarian and cavalier approach to matters that require responsible handling that JNU teachers have repeatedly warned the university since February this year. Once again, this unlawful conduct of affairs in the university has resulted in a tragic consequence that has put another young life at risk.
While the culpability of different students in creating this tense and unfortunate situation in Mahi-Mandavi hostel on the night of 14 October can only become known after a fair and impartial enquiry, it is the alleged involvement of people from outside in the aftermath of the initial event, and the alleged abuse of Najeeb along religious lines that is the cause of greatest concern. At the same time, an acknowledgment of an asymmetrical violence should not lead to a further division along religious lines, but to a strengthened resolve to combat the politics that gives rise to such polarisation in the first place.
The students, staff and teachers of JNU have built a culture of debate and dialogue across lines of religious communities, caste, gender and regions among others. This culture has been built in the face of great challenges. Our response to the present crisis must be to reassure all those have been made insecure by it, particularly all minorities and socially disadvantaged sections, that the whole JNU community stands with them and for their security, and that it will continue to combat communal and other divisions with the bonds of mutual respect and secularism.
Signatories
1. Ayesha Kidwai
2. Mohan Rao
3. Veena Hariharan
4. Janaki Nair
5. Pradip Dutta
6. Avinash Kumar
7. Rajat Datta
8. Udaya Kumar
9. G. Arunima
10. Bishnupriya Paul
11. Ranjani Mazumdar
12. Pratiksha Baxi
13. Archana Prasad
14. Vikas Bajpai
15. Rajarshi Dasgupta
16. Ameet Parmeswaran
17. Papori Bora
18. Navaneetha Mokkil
19. Saradindu Bhaduri
20. Supriya Varma
21. Ritoo Jerath
22. Dhruv Raina
23. Shukla Sawant
24. Saumen Chattopadhyay
25. Surajit Das
26. Sabaree Mitra
27. Moushumi Basu
28. Kumkum Roy
29. Indrani Mukherjee
30. Rekha Rajan
31. Manideepa Sen
32. Parnal Chirmuley
33. Franson Manjali
34. R. Mahalakshmi
35. Ramila Bisht
36. Nilika Mehrotra
37. H S Shiva Prakash
38. Sharad Baviskar
39. Sima Baidya
40. Avinash Kumar
41. Madhu Sahni
42. Vinay Ambedkar
43. Sucheta Mahajan
44. Nivedita Menon
45. Ghazala Jamil
46. Urmimala Sarkar
47. Shikha Jhingan
48. Rohit
49. Charanjit Singh
50. Mallarika Sinha Roy
51. Ira Bhaskar
52. Tiplut Nongbri
53. Chitra Harshvardhan
54. Minati Panda
55. Alka Acharya
56. Neera Kongari
57. Praveen Jha
58. Shefali Jha
59. Susan Viswanathan
60. Chirashree Das Gupta
61. Biswajit Dhar
62. Himanshu
63. AK Ramakrishnan
64. Vikas Rawal
65. Lata Singh
66. V. Sujatha
67. Renuka Singh
68. Jyoti Bhosale
69. Khwaja Md. Ekramuddin
70. Nasar Shakeel Roomi
71. Rama Baru
72. P. Bilimale
73. Najaf Haider
74. Ajay Gudavarthy
75. Shambhavi Prakash
76. Mohinder Singh
77. Sucharita Sen
78. Ravi Srivastava
79. Bikram Aditya Choudhary
80. Prachin Kumar
81. Anumitra Roychoudhury
82. Vaishna Narang
83. Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya
  • K SHESHU BABU

    Every peace-loving human rights activist should express solidarity with the faculty for arresting the dangerous trend of communal polarisation in universities. The political parties are infusing venom of religious intolerance into young students minds. The communal hatred is gaining currency over secular ideals. Steps to erase such malicious intentions of both politicians and students should be taken up before it is to late .