|Snehasish Ganguly and Ashok Todi arrive for interrogation. Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta
A cup of morning tea at 6.40
Another cup at 12.30pm
Four slices of bread with butter, by choice, at 2pm
No evening tea
Mouthfuls of questions in between
Ashok Todi was on Wednesday forced to enjoy for over 10 hours the “hospitality” of the CBI that peppered him with questions in the Rizwanur Rahman case.
The businessman’s interrogation was the longest yet in the case. The day also saw Snehasish Ganguly, brother of cricketer Sourav Ganguly, being quizzed. Sub-inspector Krishnendu Das was questioned again today for a long time but his session lasted two hours less than that of Todi.
In the morning when Rizwanur’s father-in-law walked into the interrogation room at Nizam Palace, there was no dearth of warmth.
“Mr Todi, can we have a cup of morning tea with you'” an officer asked him.
However, the mood changed as the hours passed and the CBI repeatedly asked the businessman why he lodged one false complaint after another against Rizwanur.
In the first couple of hours, the investigators asked Todi questions unrelated to Rizwanur’s death. Touching upon his business ventures and progressing to their expansion, the interviewers at one point asked him how he learnt the Bengali language.
“As there was an allegation that Todi had tried to or did spread money to separate Priyanka and Rizwanur, we wanted to know his financial strength and tried to ascertain how much he could have paid,” an officer said.
Arun Kumar, the CBI joint director heading the probe, said: “We asked Todi everything related to the case. We asked him to provide us a blow-by-blow account of his role from the moment he came to know about the marriage.”
The session broke up only twice – first for tea at 12.30pm and then for lunch for 20 minutes.
Post-lunch, the investigators focused on the alleged pressure Todi mounted on Rizwanur and the use of police officers to threaten the young man.
“He reportedly complained to Karaya police station that Priyanka was confined in Rizwanur’s room. Todi said he had spent the night of August 31 at Rizwanur’s house after he came to know about the marriage. We have asked him to clarify why he lodged a complaint even after realising that Priyanka left home on her own and she wanted to live with Rizwanur. But his answer did not satisfy us,” another CBI officer said.
The team of officers, led by Kumar and deputy inspector-general Satish Golcha, also retraced Todi’s journey from his Salt Lake residence to the police headquarters at Lalbazar.
“He confirmed that he had met police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee with the help of Snehasish on September 7. Before this, he met two other senior officers, Gyanwant Singh and Ajoy Kumar. Todi said Pappu, who runs an NGO and lives in the same locality as the Rahmans, accompanied him to the offices of Singh and Kumar,” an officer said.
Asked when Prasun Mukherjee will be called, Kumar said: “We will question him soon.”
The officers asked Todi how he persuaded the detective department to receive the false complaints of abduction and theft against Rizwanur. “This complaint plays a significant role in our probe. Two IPS officers threatened Rizwanur by showing the complaint and forced him to sign a bond allowing Priyanka to go to her parents,” one of the investigators said.
CBI sources said the officers came across a number of discrepancies in Todi’s statements. “Now we have to compare his statements with those of the others. We may examine him again if necessary,” a source said.