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Go-slow, gag trip sleuths

A go-slow diktat and a gag order “from the top” threaten to stymie the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) probe into the mysterious death of Rizwanur Rahman.

The fact that the process has slowed down is evident from the figures — while 51 persons were summoned on the first five days of the probe, no one’s statement has been recorded in the past 72 hours.

According to CID sources, the turning point came on Monday, when deputy commissioner (headquarters) Gyanwant Singh and deputy commissioner (detective department) Ajoy Kumar were to be summoned to Bhabani Bhavan.

“An order from Writers’ Buildings reached us, stating that we should not proceed to summon the two IPS officers immediately. We acted accordingly,” said a sleuth involved in the probe.

“It appears that the order came from the top; otherwise, the two top cops were bound to come to our office and record their statements under Section 175 of the Criminal Code of Procedure (CrPC),” he added. Under Section 175, a person summoned for interrogation in case of an unnatural death must show up before the investigating authorities.

For the past two days, top CID officials, including additional director-general Bhupinder Singh and special inspector-general Niraj Nayan Pandey, have been huddled in meetings with other officers of the homicide wing. All they have said is: “There’s no development in the probe.”

Wednesday did see two officials of Ashok Todi’s company, Lux Hosiery Industries, being called and questioned at Bhabani Bhavan. “But their statements were not recorded,” clarified a CID official. “We needed to check out certain points about Todi’s business.”

In another development, embarrassed by the statements made by CID officials regarding the probe, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has decided to muzzle the investigation team.

“CID officials will not be authorised to speak about the case and all media briefings will be handled by the inspector-general (law and order) Raj Kanojia,” it was announced on Wednesday.

Kanojia declined comment on the matter: “I have nothing to say today, since the CID hasn’t sent me any report.”

Officials said the home department and Calcutta police were shaken by the CID disclosure that assistant commissioner Sukanti Chakraborty and sub-inspector Krishnendu Das of the anti-rowdy squad (ARS) had said that in hounding Rizwanur and Priyanka, they were merely following instructions from their superiors.

In the course of the CID probe since September 25, four days after Rizwanur was found dead and the police commissioner had jumped the gun to label it a case of suicide, the statements of most of the key characters in the case had been recorded. This included the two ARS officers and Ashok Todi, the father-in-law of Rizwanur.

“The probe was going according to plan till Sunday. Then came the directive not to summon Singh and Kumar to Bhabani Bhavan and the whole process got derailed. said a CID officer. “As Rizwanur had met the two IPS officers days before his death, it was essential to record their statements.”

In a related development, Nazrul Islam, the inspector-general of police (enforcement branch), has written a letter to the CID, narrating what had happened the day Sadique Hussain met him in his chamber. Sadique, a witness to the Rizwanur-Priyanka registered marriage, was being threatened by Krishnendu Das to state that the 30-year-old graphics teacher had married Ashok Todi’s daughter against her wishes.

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