The candles outside St Xavier’s College glowed their brightest in 19 nights under the afternoon sun on Tuesday.
As word of the Calcutta High Court order of a CBI probe into the death of Rizwanur Rahman spread, the Park Street pavement — The Shrine, for volunteers and visitors at the vigil — drew crowds jubilant at the first sign of justice.
Strangers hugged and distributed sweets, cars slowed down and honked their support, banners saying “keep the faith — thank you, Calcutta High Court” came up like magic, and the 35,000-plus signatures of support penned since September 28 gleamed by the candlelight.
“It is the victory of every Calcuttan with a conscience,” smiled Durjoy Guha, a businessman who spends all his days at the vigil. “All those fighting for truth and justice have won the first round,” added Anwar Ali, another tireless volunteer.
With the resolve to continue the vigil till some action is assured against the cops accused of hounding Rizwanur being reinforced on Tuesday, Metro looks back at some moments in the three weeks of silent protest, as Calcuttans kept the candle burning for Rizwanur opposite Park Street police station. A salute to a city that still cares....
A young lady with second-degree burns on her face and a deep-rooted fear of fire clasps a candle, eyes firmly shut.
A policeman in uniform overcomes his hesitation and steps forward to write: “I am heartbroken at the death of Rizwan.”
A middle-aged lady braves the rain to bring a bagful of sandwiches and biscuits for two strangers on vigil.
An elderly couple silently leave three cartons of candles, biscuits and bottled water.
Ms D’Costa, 65, struggles with her walker to the flex board to write: “Justice”.
A lady on her way to church carries two candles: one for Rizwan, the other for her God.
On Mahalaya morning, an old lady in a crisp cotton sari comes with candle in hand, takes off her slippers, walks barefoot on the pavement and lights a candle, little granddaughter by her side.
Ms Jacob, a cancer patient, promises to bring tea for all those on vigil.
Alka Mukherjee, 80, calls to say: “I am bed-ridden, will you please sign the condolence book for me'”
A family of five in a Merc stops on a Saturday night and spends an hour at the vigil.
A chauffeur, watching from a distance, asks a volunteer: “Likhna nahin aata, par mombatti jalane denge'”
An anonymous bystander suddenly stoops to clear the floor in front of Rizwanur’s picture of leaves and paper, as he would at a place of worship.
Sabir Azhari and two-year-old son Arhaam spend Id, from noon to midnight, at The Shrine.
Students wear black arm bands to school and plead with their parents for permission to keep vigil.
A young man who never knew Rizwanur stands in the pouring rain holding an umbrella over his photograph and the candles.
A foreigner asks the volunteers about the vigil and then writes: “Power+Money=Corruption. Power+People= Unity.”
And the candles keep burning, from dawn to midnight.
To participate in the vigil, call 9874304494/03365219632 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org