A death foretold
Sir — The shocking death of Rizwanur Rahman and the shameful role of the Calcutta police top brass in the affair cannot be brushed under the carpet by the unqualified defence of the force by either the police commissioner or Biman Bose (“Buddha hauls up top cop for comments”, Sept 25). The tragedy proves that the role of the police in ‘secular’ and ‘progressive’ Bengal is no less controversial than those in Mumbai, Gujarat or Nithari in Uttar Pradesh. They are always eager to protect the interests of the rich and powerful. A probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation should be ordered immediately to investigate Rizwanur’s death and the allegations of harassment brought by his family.
S.P. Mookerjee, Calcutta
Sir — Rizwanur Rahman’s death shows how callous, unprofessional and corrupt the police force is. An innocent young man has either been murdered or been forced to commit suicide. If the allegations against the police are proved right, then they will confirm a long-held public belief about the corruptibility of the force, and the ease with which its conscience can be bought. What constitutional sanction did the police have to intrude into the life of a legally married couple and threaten and harass the husband, his family and the witnesses to the marriage'
Chandrachur Das, Calcutta
Sir — As law-enforcers, the police should have given protection to Rizwanur Rahman for being repeatedly threatened ever since his marriage to the daughter of a businessman. Once Rizwanur had furnished proof of his marriage, which he obviously had, the police should have asked the girl’s family to stop harassing the couple. The police not only added to the harassment but also allowed the Todis to leave the city despite being witness to an arrangement by which Rizwanur’s wife was supposed to return to her husband in a week’s time. Calcutta police have shown undue haste in declaring Rizwanur’s unnatural death a suicide, besides expressing a view on marital affairs that is outright condemnable. It is unfortunate that only after the public had vented its anger, Biman Bose felt the need to retract his statement, and the chief minister decided to haul up the police commissioner.
A.K. Bhattacharya, Calcutta
Sir — Since when did top cops start playing marriage counsellors' Why did the Lal Bazar, no less, have to summon the Rahman couple' Have the police nothing better to do'
S. Hoda, Calcutta
Sir — Rizwanur Rahman was my teacher at a well-known multimedia company and his death has been a personal tragedy for me. The allegation that he received threats from the police and his body was found on the railway tracks cast doubts on the role of the police. Rizwanur did not abduct Priyanka Todi nor did he force her to marry him. When two adults choose to live together, neither the police nor any third party is expected to intervene. Even if the Todis had found it difficult to accept the marriage, they had no right to threaten Rizwanur or put pressure on him to return his wife to her family. Rizwanur was a good teacher and a good human being. Perhaps ordinary individuals like him cannot hope to get justice.
Nandini Saraf, Calcutta
Sir — The media and human rights groups had played an active role in attracting attention to the way the course of justice in the Jessica Lal case was getting waylaid. Let us hope that they will show as much alacrity in the case of Rizwanur Rahman.
A.S. Mehta, Calcutta
Sir — It is tragic that the feudal laws of people like Ashok Todi can still manage to ruin lives in 21st-century India. The worst part is that the State machinery ensures the enforcement of such medieval laws in society. Rizwanur Rahman went by the conventional legal procedure in registering his marriage. Yet, it was Todi’s feudal laws which ruled his life, not those of the land.
Tusar Kanti Kar, Howrah
Sir — Some politicians are painting a family tragedy with communal overtones. When two consenting adults take the nuptial vows, the police cannot intervene in the matter unless an allegation of harassment is brought by either of the partners or by the family of one of the partners, who is a victim of some form of domestic violence. However, given the circumstances, marriage in India still needs the approval of society, and, of course, lots of money to keep going. A piece of marriage registration paper is no guarantee to smooth conjugal life.
Sir — That senior police officers reportedly left no stone unturned in separating the couple, who were from different communities, raises questions about the secular credentials of the police. The police chief’s observations about marriage are disgraceful. The haste with which the death is being passed off as suicide lends credence to the suspicion that the police colluded with an affluent and influential businessman to eliminate a boy from a poor family. Biman Bose’s attempt to defend the police also shows that the Left is keen to shield the powerful.
Faiz Ahmad, Calcutta