NEW DELHI: Seven months and this mother is still looking for her son.She camped in Delhi for months since her son disappeared in October last year, joing students in protests, sitting on dharna, being dragged by the cops to detention, going from pillar to post for help, spending every moment in hope and despair.

Fatima Nafeez, “Ammi” as now all students in Jawaharlal Nehru University call her has become the face of all protests in Delhi as students, faculty, citizens demanded a proper police investigation into the sudden disappearance of her son Najeeb Ahmed, after a scuffle with ABVP men. She came rushing to Delhi as she received a call from her son that something bad had happened, and that he was in hospital. By the time she travelled from Bareilly to Delhi, Najeeb had returned to his hostel room in JNU, shaken but alive. He spoke to her when she got off the bus but by the time she reached the JNU campus there was no trace of him.

Life turned into a nightmare since. Ammi told The Citizen that she was fearful for his life, that she just wanted him to come back, and begged those who were holding him to let him go. There were some who scoffed at her, insisting that he would return. But she was certain from the very beginning that her Najeeb had been abducted, and with tears streaming down her cheeks, said “they” should just let him go, she would take him back home, and not say a thing.

Gradually all the sceptics too turned, and realised that Ammi’s fears rested on a mothers instincts. She had never been easy about the disappearance, and as she said, his slippers were lying on the staircase, and his phone was still in the room as if he had been rushed away. She refused to believe stories by the police that he had taken an auto rickshaw, and while she still holds hope, the periods of despair are growing longer.

The JNU students disappearance is barely news now. Perhaps a paragraph or two a day ago when the Delhi High Court yet again rapped the Delhi police about the laggardly investigating noting, that the cops appeared to be looking for an “escape route” and were “just beating about the bush.” For Ammi, the wait is endless as she cries with just one question on her lips, “Where is my Najeeb.”

A High Court Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Deepa Sharma wondered at the conduct of the police that they said was clearly trying to sensationalise the case, or looking for some way out as it was filing reports in sealed covers. And, significantly, “there was nothing confidential, damaging or crucial” in these reports handed over in seeming secrecy. The reference by the court was to the forensic analysis of the students laptop and mobile call records. The police had not even shared these with Najeeb Ahmed’s lawyer, as if there was something highly confidential in these results.

The court observed, "This conduct itself ... you (police) pitch it (report) so high that you are sharing with us something so confidential which is not even shared with your trusted lawyer, gives us the impression that it was a fast one being played on us.”

And added,"We have to keep in mind the possibility that the police is trying to sensationalise or trying to find an escape route. We are left with the impression that the investigation is not being done properly.”

The Delhi police, according to the Bench, has been “beating around the bush and not in the bush” as it had been sending teams across the country, setting up Special Investigating Teams, but had not bothered to even question the nine students who were suspected to be connected with Ahmed’s disappearance for the first few days after his disappearance. “What is the point of sending 400 men across the country to find Ahmed, when you have not probed any of the suspects,” the Bench said.

The Court has hit out at the Delhi police at the earlier hearings as well. Questioning the manner in which this investigation has been conducted, the court said, “if today it is Najeeb, tomorrow it could be anybody, just because he belongs to some other community or a political body.” And that the police cannot stop the investigation just because of the suspects political affiliations. "It cannot be like this. We are not satisfied," the Bench said.

Interestingly, DCP Ram Gopal Naik told the court that the police had not seized the mobiles of those accused of assaulting Ahmed in the hostel room before his disappearance as there was no evidence to proceed against them. The Bench, however said that if these students had allegedly assaulted Ahmed, it was “logical” to check their mobile phones. And further told the police officer not to be “judgemental” about the missing students mental condition.

Different stories have been floated by the cops about Ahmed. One questioning his mental condition that the Bench has virtually dismissed. And the second that he was in touch with the Islamic State. This story was actually carried by the Times of India, quoting police sources, and created a furore. The issue was raised in the court, when the Bench pointed out that the forensic analysis report on Ahmed’s laptop had no such information about Ahmed visiting ISIS websites. It wanted the police to check the source. The police advocate Rahul Mehra said that the reporter had not disclosed his source, to which the court said that the police then should have had an internal enquiry to determine who had been planting these false reports.

Advocate Colin Gonsalves, represting Ammi, said that these reports carried without verification by the media had sullied the family’s reputation and devastated them. All family members, including Ammi, were in tears then wondering how they could counter the lies and the propaganda that the media was indulging in without even bothering to check the facts.

Fatima Nafees wants the current SIT dismantled, an independent SIT of police officers outside Delhi formed.

Mothers Day completes seven months since Najeeb Ahmed went missing on October 15.