The mother of missing Jawaharlal Nehru University student Najeeb Ahmad has filed a defamation suit against two media houses and their reporters for reports that her son had links with the Islamic State group, Live Law reported on Tuesday. The petition filed in the Delhi High Court names The Times of India, Times Now, Dilli Aajtak and reporters associated with the organisations.
Fatima Nafees has sought Rs 2.2 crore in damages through the Human Rights Law Network and an order restraining the media houses from publishing content related to the claims. The petition also demands a retraction of the articles mentioned and an unconditional apology.
In March 2017, the Delhi Police had refuted media reports that Ahmad had links to the Islamic State group. The police’s statement followed a report in The Times of India, which claimed that a forensic analysis of Ahmad’s laptop had found he was browsing information on how to join the extremist group a day before he went missing.
Nafees’ petition accused Times Now of airing tickers including, “Najeeb searched for information on ISIS” and “Najeeb an ISIS sympathiser?”.
“It is at the cost of this pathetic attempt to boost their readership that she [Nafees] was subjected to utter humiliation and mental agony which is rooted in the fact that the investigation of her son’s disappearance is still on-going and that news items such as this poison and prejudice the mindset of the public at large,” the petition said.
The petition added: “Despite the Delhi police issuing both a statement to the press and a rejoinder explicitly and unambiguously refuting and contradicting the impugned news report, the media house has neither retracted the news report/telecast nor published an apology for the false and malicious reporting.”
Ahmed, who was pursuing a Master’s degree at the university, went missing on October 15, 2016. He was spotted getting into an autorickshaw on the campus, allegedly after a scuffle with activists from the ABVP. The Central Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case. The Delhi High Court on December 21 asked the agency to submit its forensic report in the case as soon as possible.