02 November 2007

Police role questioned in tragic Kolkata marriage

Last September, a Muslim man named Rizwanur Rahman, 29, was found dead on the railway tracks in Kolkata. His death, attributed by the police to suicide and by his family to murder, ended a marriage that was not wanted by his in-laws and, more controvercially, the Kolkata police.

Rahman's widow, Priyanka Todi, 23, is a Hindu and, moreover, from a wealthy family. Rahman, on the other hand, lived with the rest of his family in a two-room apartment, and that is where he brought his new wife when they got married in August. The bride had prepared herself for the move by forgoing air-conditioning for a year.

Soon after Todi moved in with Rahman and his family, the police started showing up at their apartment. Acting on behalf of Todi's father, who couldn't persuade her to go back to her family's house, the "anti-rowdy" branch of the police employed threats to get the couple to go to the police station. However, no charges were brought against them.

Finally, the police succeeded in getting Todi to go back to her parent's house, with a written guarantee that she would be able to return to her husband in a week. However, she did not return within the week, and in two weeks, Rahman died under a train.

In a press conference over the matter, Kolkata's police chief, Prasun Mukherjee, who was later transferred to a different position due to a public outcry over the matter, said that the Todi family's opposition to the marriage was "natural".

There has been loud opposition to the actions of the police in Kolkata. Whether or not Rahman took his own life, many in Kolkata think that it was money that made the police act the way they did. As a Telegraph of India editorial put it, "The police seem to feel avuncular towards a particular economic class only" (New York Times).

A sordid tale this, but the uplifting part of it (as usual) is how people from different walks of life have come together over the issue and let their voices be heard. Since when is the police supposed to be a rich dad's enforcer squad?

No comments:

Something Even More Magical

In other news...