Star-Crossed Lovers & Tragic Death: Always In Fashion

Illustration for article titled Star-Crossed Lovers & Tragic Death: Always In Fashion

Meet Priyanka Todi and Rizwanur Rahman. Or rather, please look at this slightly grainy picture of the two of them taken not too long before he was found dead and mutilated after the police saw fit to intervene in their marriage. His "crime?" Well, he wasn't well off and was Muslim, she came from money and was Hindu, and he loved her. The whole tragic story that maybe slightly melted my cold, cold heart is after the jump.


So, Rizwanur was a dreamer, see, studying to get a PhD in English lit that he had to give up to go work as a teacher because of the cost of tuition. Priyanka — the daughter of a rich and powerful underwear kingpin — took his class, and (apparently) love blossomed. She even told his family that she spent a whole year sleeping without air conditioning in her parents' house to become accustomed to their way of life.

Unfortunately, her family was not so keen on her getting accustomed to their way of life (and, presumably, especially not that whole Muslim thing). When familial pressure failed to convince her to leave her husband, her daddy made a call on some powerful police friends of his. The happy couple were hauled down to the police station 3 times in a week, Rizwanur's family was threatened and the cops said they would charge him with abduction. Priyanka agreed to go home for a week to smooth things over, and then asked for an extra day in a phone call with her parents around. Subsequently, Rizwanur had trouble getting in touch with her for some strange reason.

He got a little upset and started filing cases against the police for harassment and, less than a week after Priyanka was supposed to have returned to their house but didn't, his body was found (mangled) on the railroad tracks. The local harassing police called it suicide, protests erupted, the Indian version of the FBI was called in and the police chief and 4 officers were forced to resign. Of course, he's still dead and she's a devastated widow and (even worse) living with the family that probably had him killed, but such is the price for falling in love with a man below your station and of a different religion.

Oh, wait, I almost forgot that it's 2007. It seemed ever so much more romantic in books.

A Tale of Tragic Love Cracks Calcutta's Mirror [NY Times]
Rizwan case: Top cop transferred [NDTV]
I love him, can't believe he could leave me: Priyanka [The Telegraph]



You know for all the talk about India being this massive economic powerhouse of the future, this is representative of the kind of crap that will leave them in the third world dust until they get it together and accept the tenets of modern civilized moral society. It's hard to be a moral relativist in this case. I know there is a lot of painful history there, but when I visited last year, I was overwhelmed by the institutionalization of deep, crushing poverty. Like people are OK with Dalits living in flith and eating trash by the side of the railroad tracks. Because they really believe they are human beings with lower worth due to the circumstances of their birth. I know India is about a million times more complicated than that, but basically I see this as an emblem of many, many problems.