“Remember JNU student Najeeb who went untraced? BJP/RSS and the whole Sangh Parivar were blamed and condemned for abducting and killing him- an innocent minority!! Now he is traced- with ISIS. So much for protests by prestitutes, AAP, Commies and Congis”. This is the message that has been circulating on social media after reports emerged that one Najeeb had joined the ISIS. In a telegram he wrote to his mother in August 2017, Najeeb pledges his allegiance to ISIS and says he does not want to live in the country and wants to wage jihad instead. This news was first reported in September 2017 but is circulating now as recent news.

It was picked up by right-wing Twitter users, who claimed that the news of Najeeb’s joining the ISIS was essentially an exoneration of members of ABVP which had been blamed for his disappearance from JNU in 2016.

The above tweet is by Jaswant Singh who claims to be a BJP member and is followed by Office of Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal among others. His tweet was retweeted by senior BJP leader Ram Madhav.

Senior journalist Swapan Dasguptaa too retweeted Jaswant Singh’s tweet which claimed that the disappeared Najeeb was actually with ISIS.

Shefali Vaidya, who is followed by PM Modi on Twitter, also fell for the fake news. She apologized after her mistake was pointed out by a ABVP member.

This news went viral on Facebook too as multiple users shared this information about Najeeb having joined the ISIS.

Remember JNU Student Najeeb who went untraced?
BJP/ RSS and the whole Sangh parivar were blamed and condemned for…

Posted by Ashish Das on Saturday, February 24, 2018

As it turned out, the news about Najeeb’s joining ISIS was not in reference to JNU student Najeeb Ahmed who went missing in 2016. The news was with reference to 23-year old Najeeb who was an MTech student at VIT Vellore, and who went missing from Kerala. Najeeb was reportedly brainwashed and radicalised to join ISIS. The picture above is of this Najeeb and NOT Najeeb Ahmed who was a JNU student. Moreover, this Najeeb had gone missing around August 2017 and the report cited is not recent. Ram Madhav issued a clarificatory tweet later, saying he had retweeted an old story. However, he did not refer to the fact that he had also referred to a false story. Swapan Dasgupta too untweeted it.

Earlier too, controversy had erupted after a news report had insinuated that Najeeb Ahmed may have been an ISIS sympathiser. A Times of India report of March 2017 which claimed on the basis of ‘sources’ that Najeeb had joined the ISIS was refuted by Delhi police in a statement which said that there was no evidence to suggest Najeeb had accessed ISIS videos and other material.

Najeeb Ahmed’s disappearance after he had allegedly scuffled with ABVP students on the JNU campus had become a flashpoint at the University, as it was alleged that the administration was lax in handling the case and was involved in a cover-up. In this instance, similarity in name was enough for some sections to spread false information and claim vindication. A pattern of vilifying the victim has been observed in such cases.

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About the Author

Arjun Sidharth is a writer with Alt News. He has previously worked in the television news industry, where he managed news bulletins and breaking news scenarios, apart from scripting numerous prime time television stories. He has also been actively involved with various freelance projects. Sidharth has studied economics, political science, international relations and journalism. He has a keen interest in books, movies, music, sports, politics, foreign policy, history and economics. His hobbies include reading, watching movies and indoor gaming.