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Rizwanur’s death still a mystery
Published on 11 Sep. 2010 11:34 PM IST
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The Supreme Court on Friday stayed two Calcutta High Court orders to start a fresh probe into the death of Kolkata-based graphics designer Rizwanur Rahman.
The high-profile case has gone on for three years and cemented public opinion against the state machinery and a prominent Kolkata industrialist, reported CNN-IBN.
So, who was Rizwanur Rahman and why did he have to die? As we look back into the case that gripped a nation obsessed with happy endings, we try also to understand why his wasn’t.
Rahman, a middle class Muslim, in 2007 met Priyanka, daughter of wealthy industrialist Ashok Todi who owns the 400-crore Lux Cozy hosiery brand at a graphics designing institute where he taught. They secretly married in August 2007 against the wishes of the Todi family. Priyanka went to live with her husband in his modest accommodation in a Muslim neighbourhood in Kolkata after the marriage.
Fearing retribution, Rahman and Priyanka are said to have sent a letter to the police asking for protection from the latter’s influential father. The couple was called to the police station several times and pressure was brought on Rahman to separate from his wife, which he refused to do.
Rahman was even ready to convert to Hinduism if he and Priyanka were left in peace, media reports said.
In early September, Priyanka was called into the Todi residence by her family on the pretext that her father was ill. According to reports, she was never allowed to leave or speak to Rahman. She spoke to her new husband for the last time on Sept 11. On September 21, Rahman’s body was found near the railway tracks in north Kolkata.
The case threw into sharper relief the Hindu-Muslim divide that still exists in urban society. It also started a David Vs Goliath media campaign on the socio-economic disparity pitting the right to justice of a middle class citizen against the might of money.
The case snowballed into an unprecedented public campaign after the media reported the involvement of several top police officials who were allegedly acting on instructions of Todi to separate the couple.
Citizens came out in large numbers for candle light vigils and walks in a “Justice for Rizwanur” campaign which mobilized Kolkata’s politicians and intelligentsia to sit up and demand answers from the state government.
In an interesting twist to the case, Rahman’s mother had requested actor Shah Rukh Khan not to endorse Todi’s products for his Kolkata Knight Riders cricket team. The actor was forced to put a deal with Lux Cozy on hold after widespread public opinion against it.
The Calcutta High Court in 2007 ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Rahman. Soon after, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya transferred Police Commissioner Prasun Mukherjee and four other top officers and promised to take action against them if the CBI investigations found them guilty.
The CBI concluded in its investigation in 2008 that Rahman was driven to committing suicide by some of Kolkata’s top police officers and the Todi family and recommended initiation of an abetment to suicide case under Section 306 of the IPC.
Ashok Todi’s brother Pradeep and brother-in-law Anil Saraogi were remanded to custody in December 2008 and were later released on bail in January 2009.
The Calcutta High Court in May 2010 directed the CBI to lodge a murder case and asked the investigating agency to submit its probe within four months.
Both Ashok Todi and the CBI had moved the Supreme Court challenging the Calcutta High Court’s order. The CBI said a fresh probe was not required as they have already concluded that Rahman’s death was suicide. The CBI abetment to suicide case still stands against Todi.

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