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Rizwanur Rehman: Priyanka Todi wrote a fervent appeal to her father

Posted by Indian Vanguard on November 4, 2007

Priyanka Todi wrote a plaintive letter to her father before she left her Salt Lake home to go and live with her husband on Tiljala Lane. She had said they would be happy if he allowed them to live.
IN A STARTLING letter to her father Priyanka Todi had told Ashok Todi that she loved Rizwanur Rehman and they would be happy if he allowed them to live. The letter was left for her father on her bed when she went to her husband’s home.

The four page letter, copies of which has found its way to the media and is obviously with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is a plaintive appeal to her father to leave the couple alone.

The letter which Ashok was said to have shown to the police officers he influenced and even gave one of them a copy begins with “I am going. I am leaving the house. I love a young man. Initially, I thought it won’t work out so I told him I will marry according to the wishes of my father and mother, both if whom I love because I knew you will not approve of the marriage with him. But soon I realized that I loved him too much and without him there is no future for me.” The contents of the letter were telecast today by the regional television channel Star Ananda.

The letter goes on to say “Papa before doing anything I would ask you to listen to me. On the one hand it is your daughter’s happiness and on the other your social prestige. I did not tell you earlier because I knew you would not allow me to marry him. Now that I have married him, let me live with him. He is the young man whose mobile number you saw in my mobile phone bill. If you think I won’t be happy with him, well you are wrong.”

On the second page of the letter she continues “Woh humko hamesha khush rekehega. He will do anything to keep me happy and he will not betray me. I know you will do everything in your power to bring me back. But I cannot live without him. Please Papa hame jine dijye. Hame marne ka dar nehi hai. What we are doing is right. It is the truth and God is with us.”

“If you separate us we will die. I can never live with anyone else. He is my life. I will tell you about him. He is good. If you want you can find out about him.

“I will tell you about him. He is a good man. He is not after your money. He can give it to you in writing that he will not take your money – not now not ever.”

Then her mood becomes defiant. For she writes “Aaap ko jo karna hai kar lo.” And then “Hum alag hoke ji nehi payenge . Papa please, please.”

She acknowledges that her father is powerful and influential. “I know you can do anything to separate us. But we will die. His family does not have money. So he will not be able to provide with me an airconditioner, car, jewellery and a bungalow. I don’t want a life of luxury. Maybe he will not be able to provide even good food. Mujhe ghutan hoti hai in chijo se.You may think that he will show his true colours and betray me. Mera pyar pe mera pura vishswas hai . He loves me he will keep me happy.”

The letter ends with the words…”We will be happy aap hum dono ko jeene do to.”

The letter at the end has an elaborate diagram on how to reach the Rehman house because she wanted her father to speak to Rizwanur. He father did come, accompanied by goons, but not to speak to his son-law but to threaten him to file a divorce.

Rizwanur’s elder brother Rukbanur present in the studio confirmed it was Priyanka’s handwriting because in the few days she had lived at their house, she would write down the list of things needed from the market.

The CBI, which has become more tight lipped than ever continued with its interrogations on the day. Officers interrogated Ashis Das, who had first seen Rizwanur’s body. Ashis lives in a colony near the railway tracks in Patipukur.

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Rizwanur Rehman:Maoists dub it a murder

Posted by Indian Vanguard on October 28, 2007

Anjan Chakraborty
KOLKATA, Oct. 26: Maoists in the state have termed the “unnatural death” of Rizwanur Rehman as murder, which they believe was “carried out in collusion between Mr Ashok Todi and senior Kolkata Police officers”.

Breaking their silence on the issue that has raked up public sentiment for more than a month now, Maoists have claimed that Rizwanur “was murdered as he had dared to fall in love and later marry a Hindu girl”. In a statement issued on 15 October, state secretary of the CPI (Maoists), Mr Soumen, alleged: “The chief minister is not able to shield the guilty officers of Kolkata Police because of the public outrage against administrative high-handedness.”

The statement was issued just two days before Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI inquiry into the death of Rizwanur, while terming the CID inquiry as “illegal”.
Taking a dig at the way the state government had handled Rizwanur’s case, Mr Soumen, while terming the state government’s role as nothing short of a drama, claimed: “People of the state will not forget the drama that chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and some CPI-M leaders were enacting. Even during Eid, both Hindus and Muslims, had taken out a procession in Rizwanur’s memory, demanding punishment of the accused.”
Maoists also called on the people to boycott all events and functions organised by CPI-M leaders and stay away from makeshift book stalls being put up by the party’s branch committees at pandals during festival days. “We should not forget the injustice meted out by this government and the CPI-M, be it in recent incidents involving Singur, Nandigram, Rizwanur Rehman or corrupt rationing practices, even as we get together to celebrate Durga puja,” the statement said.
The statement of CPI (Maoist) that has been in circulation for the past seven days, has caught the attention of the CID’s Naxal Cell and the state’s Intelligence Branch.
Even the Special Branch of Kolkata Police has been asked to keep an eye on anyone who may be seen to be distributing the statement in areas around Rizwanur’s house in Tiljala Lane.
Some pamphlets (scanned copies above) containing the statement have been seized from areas in South 24-Parganas, Nadia, Midnapore, Hooghly, Midnapore East and West.

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Rizwanur Rehman : West Bengal State Women’s Commission Condemned

Posted by Indian Vanguard on October 19, 2007

(We are publishing below a statement released by a number of intellectuals and concerned citizens, regarding the openly partisan role played by the West Bengal State Women’s Commission in the Rizwanur Rehman case. ]

We are distressed to read the statement of the West Bengal State women’s Commission after its visit to Priyanka Todi whose husband Rizwanur Rahman was found dead on the railway track after he had fixed an appointment with the APDR friends regarding his harassment at the hands of the Kolkata Police who were acting in blatant violation of all legal and civil norms at the behest of Priyanka’s father Ashok Todi . Todi wanted her daughter to walk out of the marriage and had mobilized Kolkata police to terrorize Rizwan and his friend Sadiq who was witness to their marriage. The couple was called to the Lal bazaar Thana and was told by the police that Priyanka should go to her parents and they would ensure that she returned after a week. This was not to happen. She was forced to go her father but all efforts of Rizwan to talk to her after this period failed. Desperate, he contacted the APDR .

One must remember that Sadiq, who was witness to their marriage, was threatened by police . He had to go into hiding. Priyanka had gone to her parents on 8 September. Rizwan wrote a detailed account of his harassments at the hands of the Kolkata Police and gave it to the APDR. On 21 September, he talked to the APDR people and it was decided that they would meet in the afternoon. This meting was also not to take place. He was found dead on the Railway tracks. Prasun Mukherji, the Kolkata police Chief declared immediately without waiting for the customary autopsy report that it was a transparent case of suicide. He blatantly justified the illegal intervention of the police in a perfectly legal marriage between tow adults Priyanka and Rizwan, claiming that it was natural for the father of the girl to get upset over such marriage, as it was a marriage between unequals. After all, Ashok Todi is a man of more the 200 crores and Rizwan was only a Muslim of modest earning!

We know that a powerful people’s campaign is on demanding the removal of the cops involved in the whole affair which has repeatedly been rejected by the CM, West Bengal . It is now a matter of public discussion that Todi is close to Prasun . The west Bengal government is putting shameless arguments in the high court opposing a CBI investigation. It is widely believed that the CID report has been manipulated to make it a case of suicide. The state government has violated all norms in constituting a Judicial Inquiry.

In these circumstances, the visit of the State Women’s Commission to Ashok Todi’s place to know about Priyanka’s well being and the statements made by the members of the commission afterwards that Priyanka had come on her own to Todi and the Police were not harsh to her and she wanted to be left alone and to top it all, the appeal by the members of the commission to Priyanka that she should not let herself get harassed by the media make it very clear that the commission is being used to give legitimacy to the police and the government and also to Ashok Todi. Should one be surprised that the Commission did not think it fit to visit Rizwan’s family and instead went to Todi’s house which, as has rightly been said cannot be a neutral site ?
We are pained and shocked to see that despite eminent people like Jashodhara Bagchi heading the state commission it has failed to maintain an autonomous position on the case, succumbing to tow the official line of the police and the state government and that too on its own initiative without any visible pressure from outside. This is a reflection of manner in which Women’s State Commissions have been undermined nationally and in states whether it is Rajasthan or West Bengal. Time and again the interests of women and protection of their rights are compromised for political interests or for maintaining the interests of those who are powerful.

We condemn strongly the move by the West Bengal State Women’s Commission. They need to remember that these institutions were created after a long and difficult struggle and any move to make them subservient to the state would be resisted with the might of the people. The members of the Commission have lost their right to continue as they have, on this occasion and on many occasions like Singur and Nandigram failed to act in an autonomous manner.

Ram Puniyani, Academic, IIT, Mumbai
Uma Chakravarti, Historian, Delhi
Harjinder Singh, Academic, IIIT, Hyderabad
Manas Joardar
Imtiaz Ahmad , Academic, Delhi
Tamilnadu Women’s Collective
Dilip Simeon, Academic, Delhi
Jiten Nandi
Kalyani Menon-Sen, Jagori, Delhi
Mukta Sinha, Charkha Samiti, Patna
Arshad Ajmal, Al Khair Society, Patna
Rabin Chakraborty, Kolkata
Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, Delhi
Teesta Setalvad ,Co-Editor, Communalism Combat
Sheba George, SAHR WARU: Women’s Action and Resource Unit
Trupti Shah, Sahiyar, Vadodara
Meher Engineer, Kolkata
Arun Kumar, Delhi
Nasiruddin Haider Khan, Journalist, Lucknow
Ranjana Padhi, Delhi
Khurshid Anwar, Institue for Social Democracy, Delhi
Ujjwal Kr Singh, Academic, Delhi University
Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad
Apoorvanand, Academic, Delhi University
Aditya Nigam, Academic, CSDS, Delhi
Nivedita Menon, Academic, Delhi University
Rupesh, Koshish, Patna
Neelu, Nari Jagaran Kendra, Patna
Persis Ginwalla
Sushma Iyengar
Dhruv Narain, Daanish Books, Delhi
Sunita Narain, Daanish Books, Delhi
Asmita Collective, Secunderabad
Nagraj Adve, Delhi
Saleem Kidwai, Lucknow .
Md. Farooque, Muscat , Saudi Arabia
Kumar Rana, kolkata
Anuradha Talwar
Shramajibee Mahila Samity
Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum
Tamil Nadu Dalit Women’s Movement
Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bombay.
Nirantar, Delhi

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Why did Kolkata police murder Rizwanur Rahman?

Posted by Indian Vanguard on October 14, 2007

September 28, 2007 posted by indiatime |

Rizwanur Rahman was a 30-year old computer graphics teacher from Kolkata. He was also a muslim who fell in love with and married a Hindu girl Priyanka Todi, who happened to be the daughter of Ashok Todi, a member of the Todi multimillion dollar Lux hosiery brand (from the banned Lux Cozy underwears ads).

Priyanka eloped and married Rizwanur on August 18, but her family lodged a missing persons report and eventually an abduction complaint against Rizwanur. The Kolkata police started harassing him to return his wife back to her family. Priyanka did not want to go back to her family, but was told by the cops that her father was seriously ill. On september 8th, Rizwanur and Priyanka relented and she went back to live with her family for a week. The family however did not allow Priyanka to return back to Rizwanur.

Kolkatans are up in arms demanding justice for Rizwanur.

STRONG PROTEST: Kolkatans are up in arms demanding justice for Rizwanur.

On September 16, Rizwanur, realising that his wife would not be returned to him, sought help from APDR
(Association for Protection of Democratic Rights) – a human rights organisation (since he wasn’t getting any help from the cops – in fact they were the ones pressuring him).

On September 21, Rizwanur Rahman was found dead, lying on the reilway tracks between Dum Dum and Bidhannagar stations. Within literally minutes, the Kolkata police chief had declared that Rizwanur Rahman had committed suicide . Biman Bose, chairman of the Left Front and a member of the communist polit bureau, told the press that the police had no way of knowing that Rizwanur Rahman and Priyanka were a married couple (in fact the police had negotiated Priyanka’s 1-week stay fully knowing about the marriage – if there were no marriage documents, the police would have arrested Rizwanur for abduction in the first place). After a week-long silence on the issue, the state chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee finally ordered an investigation in the police involvement of Rizwanur Rahman’s death.

The perpetrators of this ghastly murder must face the brunt of the law with its full force. And the corrupt political establishment that encourages and backs up such inhuman crimes needs to be rooted out and thrown out into the Bay of Bengal. Any police or government that not only doesn’t protect its citizens, but may turn out to be a perpetrating party or an abetting accomplice has no right to police or govern. Their only place in India is behind bars with their necks inside the gallows of justice.

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Justice mother’s last wish

Posted by Indian Vanguard on October 14, 2007

Kishwar Jahan’s eyes are moist but not weak. She has lost sleep but not strength. Rizwanur Rehman’s mother will fight for justice till the last breath in her frail body.

“I have lost all meaning in life after my son’s murder. My last wish is that those responsible for his death be punished. We are too weak to fgight a long legal battle but I will sell my house and even beg on the streets to ensure that my son gets justice,” says the 55-year-old in a voice feeble but firm.

Seated in a corner of the tiny 7B Tiljala Lane house on Sunday, Kishwar Jahan is mourning the loss of her beloved Kakku (that’s what she called him affectionately) with the eyes of the whole city on her. For, she has emerged as the first lady of Calcutta’s conscience and courage – both of which are being put to the test by Rizwanur’s tragedy.

As the mother-in-law of Priyanka Todi, she could have convinced the 23-year-old girl to return to her parents and told her 30-year-old son to encash the blank cheque that businessman Ashok Todi apparently offered the Rahmans on August 31.

As the grieving mother of Rizwanur, she could have succumbed to the alleged lure of lucre from political forces to hush up the matter.

But she did neither. “They (Rizwanur and Priyanka) loved each other and wanted to spend their life together. He left home on September 18 following constant harassment by the police and shifted to his uncle’s house. He was very scared but promised to return home soon. This was the last I saw him. I kept praying for his well-being but they killed him. I could not even see his dead body,” she said, her eyes welling up with tears that have refused to stop since the afternoon of September 21.

“Bahut mushkil se padhaya tha usey,” she mumbled, drifting into memories of days that were hard but not devoid of hope. Rezaur Rehman, a Group-D employee with a private company, would barely being home enough to support the education of Rukbanur, Rizwanur and sister Minu.

“We used to have one meal a day but never stopped their studies,” she recalled.

After their father retired, Rukbanur’s job with a private firm and Rizwanur’s tuitions kept the kitchen fires burning. The tide began to turn for the 7B Tiljala Lane address after Rizwanur graduated from St Xavier’s College and began working as a graphics designer. After brother Rukbanur moved into a CIT Road rented flat and father Rezaur died last year, Rizwanur stayed on in Tiljala with his mother – and then brought Priyanka home.

“Rizwanur was doing well; he would give me Rs 100 every day before leaving for office. I used to cook biryani every Sunday. We were very happy…” whispered Kishwar Jahan.

Justice apart, the one thing she is waiting to see is the girl her son loved and lost.

Her message to Priyanka: “Wherever you are, please come home in this crisis. This is your home but I will understand if you stay on with your parents, as we are very poor. But for the sake of my son, who you loved so much, come to meet me once.”

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Rizwanur death: Netizens raise voice of protest

Posted by Indian Vanguard on October 14, 2007

NEW DELHI: An online campaign is gradually gaining momentum to seek justice for Rizwanur Rehman, a Kolkata computer graphics teacher who was found dead a month after marrying a Hindu girl against her family’s wishes.

At least four communities, having hundreds of members, are presently active in social networking site Orkut in support of Rizwanur, with a CBI probe into the death and punishment to the police personnel who allegedly threatened and pressurised him to separate from his Hindu wife Priyanka Todi being the major demands.

Apparently taking a cue from similar campaigns in the past for Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Mattoo, the netizens are planning an online petition addressed to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, seeking “justice” for Rizwanur.

Wearing black bands in memory of Riwanur on Ashtami, the main day of the coming Durga Puja festival, asking the local puja committees to keep a condolence book in the pandals are some of the other forms of protest and expression of solidarity with Rizwanur’s family that are being suggested.

Rizwanur was found dead on September 21 under mysterious circumstances after his marriage to Priyanka, daughter of industrialist Ashok Todi, on August 18.

The police had termed it a case of suicide, but following a public outcry, with questions being raised from various quarters whether the police had exceeded their limits in handling the case of marriage of two consenting adults, a CID probe was ordered into the incident.

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Rizwanur Rehman’s death – a long tradition of Police atrocities in Bengal

Posted by Indian Vanguard on October 9, 2007

Sign online petition here

Nagarik Mancha – Cause of Action:

‘…mysterious death of 30-year-old graphics designer Rizwanur Rahman on September 21, just over a month after he married Priyanka Todi, the daughter of prominent city businessman Ashok Todi, chairman and managing director of Lux Hosiery…’
[Indian Express, 30.9.2007].

A number of issues have come up after Rizwanur’s death at Kolkata – the Government’s role, activities of the police and the limitations of civil society initiatives.

1. It does not matter much as to who is in the government, or who the Minister is, or how he values culture or for that matter how honest he is. During Congress rule Ms Ashima Poddar, a CPI (M) activist from Beleghata, was tortured in police lockup. Later during the victory celebrations at the Brigade Parade Ground, after the formation of the first Left Front Government in 1977, her plight was mentioned as an instance of atrocities on the woman of Bengal. That such selfless sacrifices from people like her had contributed towards Left Front’s success was acknowledged. However none of the police personnel guilty of atrocities on Ashima have been punished during the last 31 years of Left rule in West Bengal.

2. Runu Guha Neogi who tortured and tyrannised Ms Archana Guha and Ms Latika Guha during early ’70s remained scot-free till his death. Even after being convicted by the Court, this police officer was not even suspended. Conversely the Jyoti Basu-led Left Front Government promoted him for his reported efficiency in nabbing dacoits.

3. Ms Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau member of CPI (M), has stated that Judicial Enquiries are held in West Bengal, but in other States even such probes are not ordered. Maybe she is right. However in our State reports of such enquiries are not published and even when published the police personnel found guilty are not punished as per recommendations. During the Left Front rule 26 Judicial Enquiry Commissions have been set up. Till 2000, twenty such reports have been submitted. The West Bengal Government has not taken any action, as per recommendations, even in one case. Justice Samarendra Chandra Deb Commission was set-up to probe into the death of Idris Mian in the Central Lockup of the Calcutta Police Head Quarters at Lalbazar. Almost after five years, seven police personnel were found guilty. No legal action was initiated against them. Only the Officer-in-Charge of the Central Lockup Mr Dipak Roy had been suspended. Justice Ambika Prasad Bhattacharya Commission was set-up to probe into student’s death caused by police firing at Darjeeling in 1981. The report was submitted to the Government after four years but till date neither has any action been taken nor has the report been published. Even after 19 years the Justice Haripada Das Commission is yet to submit its report regarding incidents at Katra, Murshidabad. Ordering Judicial probes, delay in submission / publication of reports, apathy to take action as per Commissions recommendations have reduced this entire exercise into a farce – a tactics to delay and/or deny justice.

4. The police are held to be guilty or accused or convicted for the death or missing cases related to Kamal Thakur, Bhikari Paswan, Babai Biswas, Raj Chakraborty, Muhammad Alam, Khagen Majhi, Sanjib Pal, Harish Biswas, Suresh Barui, Partha Majumdar and so on. Fake encounters, abduction, cases of forced disappearance from police custody tantamount to kidnapping with motives of murder – and the list goes on.

a) In 1987 Subhankar Sarangi was murdered at Jhargram, Midnapore. In this case four police personnel were sentenced to five years of imprisonment in 2001. The convicted police personnel were not even suspended leave alone terminated or jailed.

b) Muhammad Alam was arrested for a petty crime from Garden Reach in 1995. Police personnel demanded four thousand rupees as ‘ransom’ for his release. When denied he was beaten up viciously and produced in Court. Without inspecting his injuries the Hon’ble Judge remanded him to judicial custody. Alam succumbed to his injuries in jail. 28 injuries were detected on Alam’s body during post mortem. A case was initiated against police personnel. Six of them were convicted and arrest warrants were issued. However the convicted police personnel have not been ‘found’! Fresh arrest warrants have been issued but they have not been served though it is known that at such points of time they have been posted at various police stations and even at Lalbazar. The State Administration has not taken any departmental action against them.

c) In 1997, Officer-in-Charge, Kalyani PS and some other police personnel picked up Khagen Majhi from his home. Later he was reported to be killed in an ‘encounter’. The Human Rights Commission report disagreed with the encounter-story and held the above police personnel guilty. The mother of Khagen filed a case against the accused police personnel. The family was offered money. Denial was met with threats of dire consequences. The Court directed the police to provide security to the family. The Superintendent of Police did nothing. Threats continued unabated. The Court issued arrest warrants against the convicted police personnel. Here too none of them could be found! On 23 January 2004, the police abducted Nagen Majhi the brother of Khagen. He has not been traced till date. All the guilty, accused and convicted police personnel are in service.

d) On the day West Bengal Assembly elections were held in 2001, the police chased Topi Das and he fell into the Subhash Sarobar at Beleghata. Police jumped into the lake and beat him up. Topi died. The Court issued arrest warrant against an Assistant Commissioner, an Officer-in-Charge and a Constable. Their anticipatory bail petitions have been rejected in the lower Court, High Court and the Supreme Court. The State Administration have not arrested them, have not suspended them and all of them are in service

5. On 5 September 1997 the police, in another ‘fake’ encounter, killed Suresh Barui. The police of Habra PS, North 24 Parganas, took away Partha Majumdar, from the place of occurrence. He had a bullet wound too. All this in front of many villagers. The State Human Rights Commission refuted the plea of encounter and recommended CID investigation. The CID on 12 January 2004 and 19 February 2004 charge-sheeted eleven accused police personnel u/s 364/201/34 of IPC, the charge levelled being kidnapping or abducting in order to murder. However two other police personnel named in the WBHRC report have not been charge-sheeted. It is notable that the State government has not given any cognisance to the demands of arresting, suspending or taking the accused police personnel into judicial custody during the trial. Conversely some of the police personnel have been promoted during the last 10 years. Some of the accused come to the Court in official cars with red lights flashing.

6. Despite the Chief Minister’s speeches at the annual meetings of the Police Associations urging the police personnel to become friends to the general public, citizens face a different story. Even for petty problems like diarising loss of mobile or cheque books the citizens need to pay bribes. At least a pack of cigarette is required for lodging a general diary. Hence it is needless to mention that the hyper activity of the Kolkata police on the face of a complaint about the ‘abduction’ of a businessman’s daughter has been powered by money.

7. Using the threat of police action political parties and leaders involve themselves in various nefarious activities. Many are implicated in false cases, are threatened with dire consequences and terrorised to gain favour from the moneyed and powerful section of the society. Only because of this Justice Molla had called the Police, a State backed force of organised hooligans.

8. In many instances of marriage in accordance with Special Marriage Act there have been undue and illegal involvement of well-to-do relatives, police and political leaders in such personal matters. So much so that even in cases of members of Leftist political parties the power of the police have been used.

9. Police personnel were responsible for the death of Kamal Thakur. For demanding punishment for the accused police personnel, his father and then his brother have been murdered under the guise of accidents.

There are many more such incidents. The Police Administration is doing its utmost to use their power to try to influence the witnesses and tamper with evidences. In many cases there have been no trials, in others the convicted have not been punished.

The conscious and well-meaning citizens have remained silent in order not to invite trouble.

Rizwanur was apprehensive. That is why he informed Kareya PS, Kolkata Police Commissioner, human rights organisations and many others. Maybe most of them initiated timely and effective actions. Yet the life threat from the police continued. Threats to be implicated in false cases and consequent arrest continued.

It is sad that the news media did not come to know about the ‘news’ before Rizwanur died. Or even if they did come to know maybe they could not find the appropriate ‘focus’ or ‘story line’.

Those who are champions in combating police atrocities and torture, both experienced and inexperienced, perhaps became active but Rizwanur died.

Now there will be many walks, meetings and other forms of protest. There will be promises to stand by the victim’s family. It will happen. It has happened. A great number of families have lost a great number of their dear ones in West Bengal. They have lost them to police atrocities and foul play.

There are only a few families who are still really fighting an unequal battle – demanding justice. Demanding that the accused or the convicted police personnel be punished. Come let us all now stand by their sides.

Naba Dutta

Phone: +9133 2344 9328


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