I really regret involving Rukbanur and Pappu - Priyanka Todi breaks her silence

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  • Published 8.12.07

Priyanka Todi breaks her silence in an interview to The Telegraph. She speaks about Rizwanur, the two persons whom she regrets having involved in the matter, and her wait for the truth.

Q: Why did you marry Rizwanur?

A: Because I loved him.

Q: Were you aware of the step you were taking?

A: Yes, I was aware. We knew what we had to face but I was sure we could convince my family to accept our marriage.

Q: How were you so sure?

A: Because I knew my family loved me and wanted me to be happy. I was convinced that once they realised that we loved each other, they would accept it.

Q: Why did you leave home like that instead of trying to explain to your parents?

A: Looking back, that is one of the things I regret — I made a mistake by not getting my family to meet Rizwanur and get to know him better before marriage. Because of all that happened after August 31 (the day Priyanka left home), my family judged Rizwanur by some of the people who surrounded him. But Rizwanur was very different from them all. But who would have thought that things would take such a turn….

Q: Were you under any threat from anyone?

A: No, we weren’t under any threat.

Q: Then why did you sign those letters (mentioning her father Ashok Todi) about a potential threat?

A: My mind was a blank… I was just signing whatever letters Rizwan was telling me to sign. I once told him we shouldn’t mention my father, but he said Pappu and Rukbanur had insisted that we frame the letters like that and they knew best. It was only when Rukbanur and Pappu tried to get us to sign a third letter that both Rizwan and I refused, saying we would not sign any more letters.

Q: What was Pappu’s role?

A: He was a kind of godfather to Rukbanur, a friend and an adviser. Rukbanur first took Rizwan and then Rizwan and me to Pappu’s office. Pappu said he had very good contacts with senior police officials and he knew exactly how to handle the matter. He said: “Just do what I say and you will be fine. Only make sure my name must never be revealed.” We followed Pappu’s instructions, conveyed through Rukbanur.

Q: Was the relationship between Rizwan and Rukbanur strained?

A: Rizwan was not close to his brother. They had some fundamental differences, which I don’t want to go into. But after the marriage, Rukbanur was always with us and so we trusted him blindly. From August 31, he moved into 7B Tiljala Lane with his family (Rukbanur and family live in a flat on CIT Road).

Q: Was he constantly in touch with Pappu?

A: He was our link with Pappu. He would go and meet Pappu and when he came back home, he would either be confident and relaxed or tense and agitated.

Q: We have learnt that Rizwanur and Rukbanur had a showdown on the night of September 19….

A: Much later I learnt that on September 19, Pappu had demanded and taken money from my uncle to make Rizwan sign divorce papers. And that on the night of September 19, Rukbanur had turned against Rizwanur and tried to force him to sign the divorce papers….

Q: Have you been following Rukbanur’s statements after September 21?

After Rizwan’s death, some of the false statements that Rukbanur has made about me and in my name have really shocked and saddened me. The manner in which my personal belongings were displayed to the media also hurt me deeply.

Q: Looking back…

A: The one thing I really regret now is involving Rukbanur and Pappu in the matter. Rizwan and I should have resolved the differences with my family by ourselves. If Pappu and Rukbanur had not been involved, things would not have come to such a pass, things would not have ended in such tragedy.

Q: What happened on September 8?

A: Two things happened that day that struck Rizwan and me as odd. First, Rukbanur’s wife and children left Tiljala Lane for their CIT Road home. I tried to persuade them to stay back but Rukbanur said space was becoming a problem at the Tiljala Lane house. Then, Pappu refused to accompany us to Lalbazar that day. We both asked him to come with us, but he said he was busy.

I was determined to go and see my father, who was not well, and I told Rizwan that. We were joined by Rukbanur, who made a few calls, and then said that a bond should be signed to ensure my return within seven days. I left for home.

Q: What did your father tell you on your return?

A: He said we should give the matter some time. That would enable my sister and a cousin brother to get married. That would also enable my family to run a check on Rizwanur, like any family would run before getting their daughter married. And the wait would prove to my family whether Rizwan was really in love with me. I agreed.

Q: What did you tell Rizwanur when you spoke to him from Tiruppur on September 11?

A: I told him everything would be all right but he would have to wait for me. “Will you wait for me? How long?” I asked him. “A lifetime,” he said.

Q: Why did you not speak to him after that?

A: I was waiting for things to settle down and things were settling down. I felt that matters had been resolved during the conversation I had with Rizwan — I told him I needed time and he told me he was willing to wait.

Also, I was a little confused after speaking to Rizwan’s ex-girlfriend (I do not want to name her because no one knows more than me now how negative publicity can ruin lives and families) as she told me “you should think again”….

Q: Do you have any insight into what happened on September 21?

A: I have no idea how Rizwan died. I don’t even want to think what might have happened on that dreadful day… But circumstances leading to his death seem to suggest that he must have been deeply disturbed by some things that had happened between September 19 and 21.

Q: Why?

A: Rizwan himself has stated, in the letter he wrote to the APDR (Association for Protection of Democratic Rights), that no harm had been done to him, either physically or through threats, till September 19. What happened between 19 and 21 that drove him to such despair?

There are a few questions about September 21 that also haunt me — why did he not call or SMS Rukbanur or any of his family members on September 21, when he was calling and messaging so many other people? Why is it that only Sujato Bhadra of APDR is saying that Rizwan had fixed an appointment with him that afternoon?

Q: What do you want from the investigations?

A: I just want to know the truth. The truth must come out.

Q: What will you do next?

A: I cannot think of anything. Life has come to a standstill.