Monday, October 29, 2007

Murder in Calcutta

From The New York Times A Tale of Tragic Love Cracks Calcutta’s Mirror By SOMINI SENGUPTA Published: October 28, 2007 A HINDU-MUSLIM love affair. A rich, well-connected patriarch. A high-handed police inquiry. And finally, a dead man on the railroad tracks. For over a month, Calcutta has been gripped by the story of Rizwanur Rahman and Priyanka Todi: he a young, striving Muslim, she a fabulously wealthy Hindu, both daring to marry despite her family’s archresistance and, in the end, paying a terrible price. On a Friday in September, barely a month into their marriage, the body of Mr. Rahman, 29, turned up on the railroad tracks, his head mangled almost beyond recognition; whether it was murder or suicide remains in dispute. Ms. Todi, 23, shut herself off from the media glare and has said nothing publicly since. At the center of their short-lived union stood the city police. Over the course of the eight days they lived together in Mr. Rahman’s family home, police interrogated the couple no fewer than three times, apparently at the request of Ms. Todi’s family. The police chief at the time, Prasun Mukherjee, justified his officers’ intervention by saying, at a news conference, that he found resistance to the marriage by the bride’s family “natural.” The family, he added, according to local press reports, “reacted because Rizwanur’s social and financial status did not match theirs.” The police swiftly labeled Mr. Rahman’s death a suicide — a verdict his family just as swiftly rejected. This tale of love, defiance and death has dominated the public imagination of this city, and not only for its rich drama and intrigue. It seems also to have touched a raw nerve, sparking public outrage that the police were making the bedroom their business, and seeming to do so at the behest of the rich and mighty. The case has been particularly jarring to the psyche of a city that has long regarded itself as a place where Hindus and Muslims can live relatively peaceably. Rest of story.

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