Todi reaction 'natural', top cop says and storms out

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By Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 23.09.07

Calcutta, Sept. 23: Calcutta police are literally on the run over Rizwanur Rahman’s mysterious death that is snowballing into a political issue with sensitive overtones.

Police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee today stormed out of a media conference, unable to answer questions about his force’s interference in the marital life of Rizwanur (30) and Priyanka Todi (23).

“I do not have time to answer all your questions,” Mukherjee told the media conference he had convened to respond to charges that officers colluded with a businessman to break up the marriage.

Before Mukherjee left in a huff, he declared that Rizwanur committed suicide, though the post-mortem report has not yet been made public.

The body of Rizwanur, a computer graphics teacher who married businessman Ashok Todi’s daughter against her family’s wishes, was found by the rail tracks on Friday.

Mukherjee described the reaction of the Todi family as “natural”. Like his deputies who are being dubbed self-styled marriage counsellors, the police chief displayed his expertise in such matters, almost questioning the desirability of relationships in which “financial and social status” do not match.

CPM state secretary Biman Bose tried to defend the police, saying they had no knowledge that the couple had a registered marriage. But documents suggest otherwise ( ). Sources said the chief minister was likely to call a meeting of officials tomorrow.

A political storm appears to be brewing with Mamata Banerjee, who is trying to live down her association with the BJP, calling on Rizwanur’s family. Siddiqullah Chowdhury, the Jamait Ulema-i-Hind leader who made capital out of the Nandigram flare-up, too, visited the house.

At the media conference, the police chief said: “Rizwanur’s death is a case of suicide and it is very transparent.”

“After taking care of the daughter for 23 years, if the family finds one morning that she has left them to start a new life with an unknown youth, parents cannot accept it. The reaction of the Todi family was natural,” Mukherjee said.

“The Todi family reacted because Rizwanur’s social and financial status did not match theirs,” explained Mukherjee, flanked by senior officers Gyanwant Singh and Ajoy Kumar.

According to Rizwanur’s family, Singh, Kumar and another officer (ACP Sukanta Chakraborty) were pressuring him to send his wife back to her parents. Rizwanur had mentioned in a statement that he and his wife were summoned to Lalbazar — the police headquarters — thrice in less than two weeks.

Asked whether the police should have got themselves involved, Mukherjee lost his composure. “Then who will get involved? Do you think the PWD will intervene? This is how we deal with such cases.”

As other questions began to fly, Mukherjee said he had time for only three as he had an appointment. The conference lasted 12 minutes.

The last question: “Had the police handled the case professionally, wouldn’t Rizwanur be alive now?”

Answer: “That is your problem.”