New Delhi: In a high-voltage late night drama that unfolded on the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University on Wednesday, the students protesting against the disappearance of a JNU student five days ago, confined the university's Vice Chancellor, Proctor, Rector and other senior officials in the administration building by blocking all the exit gates of the premises. The deadlock failed to break despite repeated attempts of negotiation between the administration and students.
Demanding the JNU administration to lodge a formal complaint about the missing incident with the police, the students are also seeking action against ABVP students involved in alleged assault on the missing student Najeeb Ahmad at Mahi Mandvi Hostel on Friday.
"Our demands are simple. We want the university administration to show concern towards Najeeb's missing in real terms. The administration should file a formal complaint about Najeeb's disappearance with the police on its behalf. It should also declare the three ABVP students involved in the assault on Najeeb, out of bounds from the hostel. Till now, the administration has done nothing other than releasing statements that they are in touch with police and other agencies," former JNUSU General Secretary Rama Naga told ScoopWhoop News.
In a first of its kind, the public face-off between the administration and students took place near the main entrance of administration building at midnight when JNU VC Jagadesh Kumar and other officials came up with an appeal to the students to let them go.
Appealing the students to end their gherao and return to their respective hostels, Kumar said "some of these officials are blood pressure and diabetic patients and are not able to take their medicines. It's already more than five hours of confinement. Their continued confinement may lead to deterioration of their health."
Vice Chancellor Kumar, also listed out the administration's measures to bring Ahmad back to the campus.
Hinting that Ahmad might be staying out of campus deliberately, Kumar said the administration has made an appeal to Ahmad through media and university's website to "return and resume his academic activities without any fear."
However, he was booed by the students and faced questions from the agitating students after none of their demands were accepted by the administration. The students also raised slogans linking VC to the Sangh Parivar and RSS.
With students unrelenting, the VC and other officials backed off and invited JNUSU members for another round of talks to break the deadlock at around 12:30 am. The second meeting which continued for nearly two hours didn't yield any result too.
"They are free to go but they have to walk over our bodies. The administration has taken it as a matter of its ego and said that they won't receive any diktats from the students. The VC said the health of Registrar is deteriorating as he has had no food. But when we took food for him, he refused to eat it," President of Left-dominated JNUSU, Mohit Pandey, told a gathering of students after the meeting with administration.
Vowing to continue the gherao, Pandey also said that the administration was showing "insensitivity" and "lack of concern" towards the disappearance of Ahmad and they would continue the protests indefinitely.
The VC and other officials continued to remain confined in the administration building at the time of filing this report.
Earlier in the day, various protesting student outfits arrived at a consensus to gherao the administration building, to put pressure on the administration. The right-wing RSS's student wing ABVP didn't join the protests.
"We had to take this tough measure. In my and Anirban's case, people at least knew that we are at Tihar jail. There were constant updates about us conveyed to the JNU community. But in Najeeb's case, there's no trace of him. The administration has shown sheer insensitivity to the whole matter and is shielding those who attacked him in front of the hostel officials," Umar Khalid, JNU student and one of the accused in February 9 incident, told ScoopWhoop News.
Khalid also alleged that witnesses of the Friday incident are being "threatened" and "intimidated" by ABVP members.
While the face-off between administration and students continued, sources said two Delhi police vehicles from Police Control Room entered the campus around midnight and left after ten minutes. At around 11:30, an ambulance, called up by the administration, also pulled up near the administration block, leaving the students puzzled.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police put out posters about the missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmad on Wednesday and announced a cash reward of Rs 50,000 for anyone having information helpful to locate him.
There has been no breakthrough in the case as of now.
Feature image source: ScoopWhoop/Safwat Zargar