The following is a narration of events by a person close to the Todi family who spent nearly six hours over two days with Devadeep Purohit of The Telegraph. In keeping with the demands of fair journalism, The Telegraph, which has carried a series of reports on Rizwanur Rahman’s death, is reproducing the version exactly as rendered by the Todi family confidant. This is the Todi family’s side of the story.
Priyanka had gone to her classes at Arena Multimedia. Ashok Todi was busy meeting overseas buyers.
Unlike other days, Priyanka did not return home (Salt Lake CG-235) around 3pm. And her cellphone was “not reachable”. Unable to get in touch with her daughter till 4pm, her mother Bimla panicked and alerted husband Ashok and brother-in-law Pradip.
The Todi brothers set out for the Arena Multimedia centre in Chowringhee around 4.30pm. Before they could reach, Priyanka’s younger sister phoned her father to say that Priyanka had called home and said she had married Rizwanur Rahman and would not return home.
Rizwanur had then taken the phone, given his residential address and said that the Todis were welcome to come and visit their daughter.
Ashok was shocked. Priyanka was her father’s pet and he could not believe she had left home and got married.
(A few months earlier, Ashok had noticed a lot of text messages on Priyanka’s cellphone from one number. When he asked her about it, she said the SMS exchanges were with her computer graphics teacher (Rizwanur), who preferred communicating through text messages.
Ashok said she should restrict her interaction with her teacher to the institute and not exchange texts outside the classroom. The messages had then stopped and Ashok breathed easy.)
After the phone call from his youngest daughter, Ashok started calling some close relatives and planning what to do next. Finally, the two brothers decided to go to 7B Tiljala Lane (Rizwanur’s home).
They lost their way in Tiljala and arrived at Rizwanur’s Tiljala Lane home around 8pm. (Before long, Ashok and Pradip were joined by their cousin Anil Saraogi.)
Sitting on the bed were Priyanka and Rizwanur. Six of Rizwanur’s uncles and his brother Rukbanur were cramped into the 10ftx8ft room.
“Beta, you come with me,” Ashok told Priyanka.
“Nahin papa, I will stay with him,” replied Priyanka.
Ashok kept asking her to come home with him, but she made it clear she would not leave Rizwanur. Ashok said he wanted to speak to his daughter alone, but he was refused.
Priyanka and Rizwanur kept quiet while his uncles and Rukbanur did all the talking. One of the uncles produced the marriage certificate to prove that Priyanka and Rizwanur were married.
Rukbanur, his uncles and family friends (including Pappu) said Rizwanur had committed a mistake by marrying Priyanka without informing members of either family.
They also told Ashok that if his daughter was willing to leave with him they would not stop her but they would not allow her to be forcibly taken away.
Both Ashok and Pradip tried to convince Rizwanur’s family that they were not there to try and break the marriage but to take Priyanka back home for a few days.
“We need to be convinced that Priyanka really loves Rizwanur and Rizwanur really loves her and not her wealth. For that, Priyanka must come home with us and give us some time,” Ashok and Pradip told the Rahmans.
The brothers told them that if they were convinced that Priyanka and Rizwanur were really in love and happy together, they would get them married in a ceremony on an auspicious date in December.
Pradip and Anil left the Rahman home around 1am, but Ashok stayed on till the next morning, trying to convince his daughter to leave with him.
Finally, around 8am, he left his daughter and returned home to Salt Lake.
September 1 to 6
We as a family were desperate to get Priyanka back home, even if it was for a few days. Ashok wanted to talk to her and understand whether she knew what she was doing or whether she was doing it under some pressure or influence.
We got in touch with our lawyers for help in getting her back. During our meeting with our lawyers at the Old Post Office Street office of Victor Moses, we met another client of theirs, Hasan Ali. We were told he was an influential man in the area, so we requested him to help us get Priyanka home.
He promised to do his bit and we followed up with him over the next two days. No monetary transaction took place. We started feeling uncomfortable about Hasan’s manner of functioning and so we decided to delink ourselves from him on September 3.
As a father desperate to get back his daughter, Ashok approached police for help.
Gyanwant Singh and Ajoy Kumar were the two senior officers the brothers knew through their involvement in some police programmes. They had made donations to the police welfare fund and also provided T-shirts for a police event.
With time ticking away and no clear signals from the police, Ashok Todi decided to take the matter one step further.
Snehasish Ganguly, elder brother of Sourav, is a family friend and a business associate of Ashok and Pradip. While the brothers get packaging material for their hosiery products printed at the Ganguly family press, the ex-cricketer has been serving as an independent director on the board (“he is a dignitary after all”) for the past four years.
As we had no connections with the police commissioner, we requested Snehasish to set up a meeting with Prasun Mukherjee to help us in a family crisis. We did not even discuss details of the matter with Snehasish.
Pradip went with Snehasish and met the police commissioner in Lalbazar. Mukherjee was very busy and he hardly spoke to Pradip. Without promising anything or even making a phone call, the commissioner left. We were not sure what would come out of the meeting.
Ashok was taken ill earlier in the day after meeting Jawed Shamim, the deputy commissioner of police, south. Shamim had refused to intervene in the matter as Priyanka and Rizwanur were adults.
After Ashok, who had undergone a stent procedure earlier in the year, collapsed, he was taken by Pradip to Apollo Gleneagles.
Pradip admitted his brother to hospital and then rushed to Rizwanur’s Tiljala Lane home. He told Priyanka that her father had been taken seriously ill and was hospitalised, and it was his duty to inform her. In a fit of rage, Pradip stormed out of the house, with Priyanka’s cries of “Chacha ruko, chacha ruko…” ringing in his ears. He did not look back.
Priyanka and Rizwanur were called to Lalbazar the next day. As Ashok was in hospital and Pradip had slipped and hurt his knee the previous night, Anil (Saraogi) went to bring Priyanka back.
In front of the police officers, Priyanka said she wanted to return home for a few days as her father was ailing. Rukbanur and Rizwanur said that a bond should be signed to ensure that Priyanka returned to her husband within seven days. As Rizwanur dictated the content, Anil wrote it down and signed on it.
Priyanka left Rizwanur at Lalbazar and headed back to CG-235 in Salt Lake.