Fifteen years ago, then the main Opposition in Bengal Mamata Banerjee had hit the streets following the death of 30-year-old computer graphics trainer, Rizwanur Rahman.
Her target then were three top police officers of Calcutta Police, then city police chief Prasun Mukherjee, then deputy commissioner of police (HQ) Gyanwant Singh and deputy commissioner of police (detective department) Ajoy Kumar, who were accused by the Rahman family of interfering in his “marriage” with the daughter of a Calcutta-based industrialist.
Rizwanur was found dead beside a railway track near Patipukur on September 21, 2007 two weeks after his “wife” was taken away by her parents. Mukherjee had justified the interference by the police in the matter. “Police interfere in such cases. Who else will do, PWD?” he had said at a press conference at Lalbazar, the Calcutta Police headquarters.
Stung by rising public anger fuelled by political vendetta and strictures from the Calcutta High Court, then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee ordered the removal of all the three police officers.
In 2022, with Mamata Banerjee as chief minister, Gyanwant Singh, now ADG (CID), is heading the probe into the death of the 28-year-old student leader, Anis Khan. The other members of the SIT probing Anis’s murder are ADG CID (Operations) Meraj Khalid and joint commissioner of police (Barrackpore) Dhrubajyoti Dey.
Congress veteran Abdul Mannan questioned the logic behind the move. “When she was in the Opposition, she had led movements against these very officers. Buddhababu had assured the family of justice and acted. What has she done? She has brought those same officers to the forefront,” said Mannan.
Since he was shunted by the Left Front government, Gyanwant’s promotion was stalled till 2014, when he was reinstated as DIG Murshidabad Range by the Mamata Banerjee government.
CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty feels it is difficult for the people of Amta and the family members of Anis Khan to have faith in the government.
“It is alleged that the police killed Anis. The same police is represented by Soumya Roy, SP Howrah (Rural), who happens to be the husband of a Trinamul legislator,” Chakraborty said.
Chakraborty demanded the resignation of the chief minister. “The SP is trying to cover up the case. The SIT is nothing but an attempt to not let the truth out. A CBI probe should be held under judicial supervision,” Chakraborty said.
Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikary on Tuesday called for the arrest of Roy.
“There is no doubt that the police killed Anis Khan. The police (in Howrah) are headed by Roy. He should not only be suspended but arrested too,” Adhikary said.
Last week, in the intervening night of Friday, February 18 and Saturday, February 19, a group of four men claiming to be from the police had barged into the Khan residence at Howrah’s Amta, Khan's family has alleged. The lifeless corpse of Anis was found lying on a vacant area adjacent to the residence soon after the unidentified men left.
The Howrah police have, however, denied sending any team to Amta on that fateful night.
Mamata broke her silence on the shocking incident on Monday, three days after Anis’s murder. While announcing the SIT, she said, “Whoever be involved in this death, the probe will be impartial. If I am responsible, I too won’t be spared. In these matters I am rough and tough.”
Although the chief minister had asked Anis Khan’s family members to meet her on Monday afternoon, they did not turn up.
Anis’s father, Salaam Khan, also claimed that three persons had visited their house on Sunday night with one of them identifying himself as a representative of the chief minister. “Someone came and said he was representing the CM, her personal assistant, offered job and financial compensation. I told him I was not interested in either. They wanted us to go to meet the CM on Monday,” said Khan.
The elderly man said that the three men came around midnight and stayed for over an hour. Since then the house has been barricaded by a police team. “I don’t need the police. They killed my son. What if they kill me? If she calls me or sends her people, I will tell them to remove the police team. I want a CBI probe,” he said.