The case of Rizwan-ur-Rahman, a Muslim teacher allegedly killed by his Hindu in-laws for marrying their girl, has sparked a communal row in Kolkata. Priyanka Todi, the widow of Rehman was a young student from an affluent business family of the city.
A letter written by Rizwan days before his death reveals that the police was harassing him for marrying Priyanka. Rizwan’s family alleges that the cops and the girl’s family plotted his killing.
Though a CID enquiry was ordered in the case, the report fails to name anyone for the alleged murder. The ruling Left Front has now ordered a judicial probe into Rizwan's death.
So is Indian society reluctant to accept Hindu-Muslim marriages? CPI-M MP Mohammad Salim; Rehman's elder brother Rukban-ur Rehman; Panchjanya Editor Tarun Vijay; Asif Iqbal, a Muslim married to a Hindu and Ranu Kulshrestha, a Hindu married to a Muslim discussed the issue on Face the Nation.
Killed for defying communal barriers?
After 30-year-old Rizwan-Ur Rahman was found dead under mysterious circumstances last month, Kolkata Police said this could be just another suicide on railway tracks. But more doubts are emerging about the police's theory. It is now clear that rizwan had fixed an appointment—just 20 minutes before he was found dead—with a human rights activist to find a way to get back his wife.
The letter written by Rizwan alleges that Deputy Commissioner of Police Ajoy Kumar warned him that he would be framed for abduction and theft if he didn’t leave Priyanka.
Rehman’s elder brother on being asked why he believes so strongly that his brother was murdered and that it wasn’t a suicide says, “We have a strong belief that he was murdered by his in-laws. Some people from police were also involved in this,” says Rukban.
Was the motive simply to separate the couple? “Yes. Right from the beginning they were against the marriage,” he added. CPI-M leader Mohammad Salim assured that justice will be delivered at any cost.
“The day his dead body was recovered, I held a press conference and condemned the killing. I I want justice to be delivered to this family. Police has clearly shown negligence in this matter. Government has instituted a CID enquiry and a judicial probe in to the incident. The Chief Minister himself believes that there is a communal angle to the case.”
Salim however denied any communal repercussions of this incident in the state.
Why is the wrath directed toward Muslims?
Rizwan’s in-laws allegedly have killed him just because he was a Muslim. Editor Tarun Vijay said, “This may not be a Hindu-Muslim thing because we have seen many such marriages ending in a tragic way. In UP, Haryana, Punjab inter religion marriages have taken place. We need not colour it into communal hues. I think love should triumph in the end.”
“Gandhi had stopped Vijayalakshmi Pundit to convert to Islam when she wanted to marry a Muslim boy. Since the days of Gandhi the pattern has been followed,” he added.
Asif Iqbal responding to the allegations that Christian and Muslim boys are deliberately trying to convert Hindu girls into Islam said, “Marriage is not a mission where you are looking for a person who could be converted. There are several cases where two people coming from different religion have married and carried on with their individual beliefs.”
Citing a recent judgement by the Supreme Court, Iqbal said, “there is a clear provision in law which states that all the marriages must be legally registered irrespective of religion. Couples are discouraged by the district administration, right from the clerk to the registration officials from entering into an inter-religion marriage.”
Every time that a Hindu-Muslim marriage surfaces, its almost incidental for the allegation to come up that the Hindu girl has given in under pressure from the Muslim man.
“Love should take precedence over everything else whether it is race, religion or caste,” said Tarun Vijay.
“But what I don’t understand is why is there a pattern that in every case, a Hindu has to convert to Islam. Why can’t it be a Muslim to Hindu conversion?” he added.
Communal tension are not new to West Bengal. Increasingly, communal issues are being raised up in the state. Mohammad Salim however denied this. “The death of Rezwan has not divided the society. It has in fact unified the society. Some of the police officers could be involved. There is that angle in the case. But that has to be looked into. There is no Hindu-group such as RSS or VHP in this state. In Kolkata all Hindus and Muslims are demanding justice for Rezwan.”
However time and again, as per the reports suggest, the couple were being harassed. It is disturbing to see the role of the authorities in this case. “That’s a valid point. We must get to the bottom of the truth and punish the guilty. Even the local MLA here sided with the girl’s family,“ Mohammad Salim added.
Have things become different for Hindus and Muslims? With terrorism and covert communalism everywhere, are suspicions growing? “When it comes to marriage, our society doesn’t permits the right to choose. Things are changing but at a very slow pace. Despite having the right to choose, right to decide under the Special Marriage Act, the society and the system as such are hostile against anyone who is making a choice,” said Ranu Kulshrestha.
Was Priyanka happy with Rehman? His elder brother Rukban says, ”Yes. She was happy. Right from day one when she came to our house she was extremely happy. She tried to adjust herself into the household like any normal girl. She was content and there was no problem at all. The problem began when police started harassing the couple.”
Final Verdict: Is Indian society reluctant to accept Hindu-Muslim marriages?
86 per cent said yes.
14 per cent said no.