|The Telegraph report on the payoffs
Calcutta/Delhi, Nov. 19: Rukbanur Rahman tried to distance himself from Pappu a day after The Telegraph published a report on the deals struck behind Rizwanur Rahman’s back.
“I know Pappu but he is not close to my family. We do not have any family relations with him,” Rukbanur said of the NGO official who, the Todis have told the CBI, took Rs 11 lakh from them to separate Priyanka Todi and Rizwanur.
“I am shocked to read in the newspaper that Pappu had struck a deal with the Todis and took money. He called me today on my mobile phone several times pleading innocence. It’s unbelievable that he can indulge in such a game,” Rukbanur, Rizwanur’s elder brother, said.
Pappu, however, told The Telegraph today that he had “good relations” with the Rahmans for several years. “How can Rukbanur deny that I had good relations with his family' Rukbanur was a friend of mine and had come to my NGO office several times. He was the first one to inform me about the marriage of Priyanka and Rizwanur. I do not know what to say. The Rahmans knew that I was a resourceful person and would help them out,” Pappu said.
Rukbanur said the case was still under investigation and if anyone had taken money, he should be booked. “From now on, I cannot trust anybody. What has come out is shocking and now I have doubts about Pappu’s intention. Why is he calling me time and again to clarify himself' If he has taken money, he should be booked,” he said.
Rukbanur said he had a meeting today with his uncle, Saidur Rahman, who has been accused of providing information to the Todis for money. “We called him to our house and asked him what he has to say about it. He denied that he had ever taken money from the Todis. But if he is guilty, he should be punished. We won’t support anybody even if the person belongs to my family,” Rukbanur said.
Pappu, too, denied that he took money. “I have never met the Todis and there is no question of me taking money. It’s a conspiracy against me,” he said.
CBI sources in Delhi said the agency had evidence of the transactions and it was planning to call some members of the Todi family to the capital for a lie-detector test to “tie up some loose ends”. They said Pappu could also be called.
Sitting in his Broad Street office, Pappu said he had received anonymous calls thrice on September 1 and 2.
“The caller asked me whether Priyanka was forcibly kept at Rizwanur’s house. He also wanted to know about Rizwanur’s family but he didn’t disclose his identity. I told him that both were legally married,” he said.
Pappu, whose two brothers and six sisters are settled in America, said he knew “at least 12 to 15 IPS officers” and had asked one of them to help the couple following harassment by police.
Asked why he didn’t go to Lalbazar on September 8 — the day Priyanka was sent back to her parents — Pappu paused for a while. “I didn’t go as I was busy with my office work. I called up two officers that morning and both assured me that they would sort out the matter,” he said.
Douglas Kelly, the public affairs officer of the US consulate, said the American unit had planned to donate computers, clothes and sewing machines to Pappu’s NGO as it works for the downtrodden.
“Now we have to reconsider it. There is no question of giving funds to his organisation,” Kelly said.