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JNU football team sports "Najeeb", name of the missing student, on the back of their jersey

Sagnik Kundu
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Exclusive
848   //    07 Nov 2016, 19:05 IST
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The team photo before the start of the match (Credits: Indian Express)

A football team from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) took the field today with all of their jerseys sporting the name “Najeeb”, the name of a student who disappeared. JNU scholar Najeeb Ahmed has been missing since 15 October 2016 and the team voiced their support.

Red Star JNU is a football club comprising primarily of Malayalis which participated in the Capital Carnival tournament. The players of Red Star took the field earlier today wearing the modified jerseys as well as white armbands saying “Find Najeeb”.

Najeeb went missing after an altercation

Najeeb, who is a biotechnology student, was involved in an altercation with members of ABVP during a hostel poll campaign. The 27-year-old went missing the very next day, which is unusual given the circumstances.

Fatima Nafees, Najeeb’s mother, along with a cousin and numerous students tried to hold a vigil near India Gate earlier but were subsequently detained. They protested against the police’s alleged delay in proceeding with the case.

As reported in the Telegraph, the captain of the Red Star team, Muhammed Haneefa spoke about how all the students were affected by the sudden turn of incidents. He also mentioned that the footballers sported Najeeb’s name so as to make people aware of the situation.

"On October 22, we cancelled our Onam program on campus as everyone is depressed with Najeeb going missing," he said.

"We receive calls from our families every day asking whether the situation is safe. People are scared because he disappeared from the JNU campus, which has always been the safest place in the city."

Mixed fortunes for Red Star

The team, however, had mixed fortunes in the day as they won their opening encounter only to lose in the subsequent semi-final. The first match against Janasamskriti Badarpur saw the Red Star team triumph 2-0. In the semi-final against Force 1 they, unfortunately, lost out by the same margin.

"The crowd started shouting 'one goal for Najeeb' after we spoke to them on the subject during the break," Haneefa added.

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"After the tournament, other teams wanted to join us at the vigil at India Gate, but by then, everyone there had already been detained."

Haneefa also spoke of how everyone joined in after understanding the magnitude of the incident. "They understood that it was a genuine cause and joined us in sloganeering during the gap between our matches," said Haneefa.

While Najeeb is still being tracked by a special investigation team, a reward of Rs 2 lakh has been announced for any information. The university has not taken any action as of yet against any student for hostel violence – a violation that Najeeb has been accused of in a JNU media release.

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Sagnik Kundu
FEATURED COLUMNIST
I spend every day at office wondering how they got the table through the door.
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