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Riz family skips protest rally

Bamangachhi resident Srikanta Bhadra, who was assaulted on Tuesday night for his anti-hooch campaign, in the rally to protest Gyanwant Singh’s promotion. Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha

A group of rights activists visited Rizwanur Rahman’s home on Friday and tried but failed to convince his family to join a protest rally against the promotion of a police officer accused of threatening the youth and his newly-wed wife in 2007.

Rizwanur’s mother said she was ailing and his sister-in-law said she had to look after the aged lady. His brother is a Trinamul Congress MLA.

IPS officer Gyanwant Singh, who had been removed as deputy commissioner (headquarters) of Calcutta police in 2007 for his alleged interference in the marriage of Rizwanur and Priyanka Todi, was promoted on Tuesday after seven years in posts considered insignificant in the cop circles.

Rizwanur’s body was found beside the railway tracks in north Calcutta’s Patipukur on September 21, 2007, triggering allegation that the police’s attempt to separate him from his wife had led to the death of the Park Circus youth.

The protest march from College Square — it was planned to end at Esplanade but terminated much earlier at Wellington Square — turned a damp squib in the absence of any of the immediate members of Rizwanur’s family.

“A little over 300 people had participated in the march,” said a police officer.

A relative of the Rahmans, Akinur, walked with the protesters.

“We felt let down by her decision. (Mother) Kishwar Jahan’s participation would have lent more credibility to the rally. But she has health issues,” said Ranjit Sur, a member of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), which organised the march.

A team from the APDR reached Rizwanur’s home around noon and requested Kishwar Jahan to attend a meeting to be held before the rally “just for 10 minutes”.

The lady expressed her inability to attend the meeting, saying she was recuperating from an operation. “I have become too feeble to go anywhere. They wanted to take me to the meeting in a cab and drop me back home. But I am not in a position to move,” Kishwar told Metro later.

She used to be in the front row of such rallies during the Left Front regime.

Asked whether she supported the protest against Singh’s promotion, Kishwar Jahan said after a pause: “Ab is barey me kya bataye (What do I say about it now)?”

An APDR member said Kishwar’s expression suggested she could not ignore the fact that her son was an MLA of the ruling Trinamul. “We doubt whether she would have come even if she had been fit,” said the member.

Rizwanur’s brother Rukbanur is the MLA from Nadia’s Chapra.

Rukbanur’s wife Zahida, who said she could not join the rally as she had to take care of her ailing mother-in-law, is a Trinamul leader, too.

“Personally,” she said, she was opposed to Singh’s promotion. “It’s not good.”

From police to politicians to people close to him, Rizwanur had been under tremendous pressure to end his marriage with Priyanka, the daughter of industrialist Ashok Todi. Intense protests followed the death, with many suspecting initially that he had been murdered. Mamata Banerjee as opposition leader lent support to the protests.

Gyanwant Singh was among the police officers accused of summoning the young couple to Lalbazar and pressuring them to separate.

The Trinamul government, however, gave a clean chit to Singh and brought him back to mainstream policing by appointing him deputy inspector-general (Murshidabad range).