JNU protesters call off 20-hour blockade of vice-chancellor over missing student

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NEW DELHI:Students at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University called off a blockade of the vice-chancellor and top officials inside a building on Thursday after 20 hours over a student’s disappearance five days ago.

The decision came hours after Union home minister Rajnath Singh said a special Delhi Police team will look for Najeeb Ahmed who apparently disappeared after a thrashing by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

Students let V-C M Jagadesh Kumar and other officials to step out for a meeting after detaining them – allegedly without food or water — angering a section of the protesters, who shouted slogans of “JNU murdabad”. They said protests will continue.

Delhi Police say they have formed 10 teams to find Ahmed in the Capital and neighbouring states, and have announced a cash award of Rs 50,000 for anyone with information about the student.

“We have some leads and it being developed to ensure a safe rescue of Ahmed. Not much related to investigation can be shared at this moment, as it may hamper our efforts,” Nupur Prasad, additional DCP, South, said.

Since Ahmed’s disappearance on Friday, tensions have mounted on campus with the Left-controlled students union saying the university has been lax in trying to find Ahmed and book members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the youth wing of the RSS. Others say Ahmed slapped a student.

JNU is ranked among India’s top educational institutions but has been rocked by protests and an ugly row over nationalism after a controversial event commemorating 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in February. Classes in the university were suspended for days and students went on strike against the government’s move to arrest and charge top student union leaders with sedition.

The students say they haven’t illegally confined anyone and blocked food or water. “You all know the proctor was outside and he freely walked into the building. Electricity and supplies are here. We have also sent food for all people,” Mohit Pandey, president of the JNUSU, said.

But the V-C says the union is “blatantly lying” and that he was effectively stopped when he tried to step out at 2.20am on Thursday. “They lay in front of the gate. How could we walk over them? So I said to them that we had no option but to go back to our rooms. There was no food and we slept on the floor,” he said.

The current crisis began on Friday, when violence was reported from the Mahi-Mandvi hostel on campus – where one faction says ABVP beat up Ahmed and another that the Muslim student slapped a hostel resident. At least 12 students have been asked to depose before the proctorial committee in this regard, officials said.

Ahmed’s family lodged a complaint at Vasant Kunj North police station on Tuesday and an FIR has been registered for kidnapping and wrongfully confining a person.

 

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