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. (link)

Priyanka Todi, left, was married to Rizwanur Rahman, right, barely a month when he died. -- The Telegraph (of India)

Rizwanur Rahman and Priyanka Todi seem like the protagonists of that famous Shakespeare play, don’t they? Unfortunately, it’s a similar tragedy as well.

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 murder or suicide, that is up for debate. But what’s more controversial are the events that lead up to the death.

First, her father came to urge her to leave. Then the police summoned the couple to the headquarters of the “anti-rowdy” division. On one occasion, Rukbanur Rahman recalled, police officers threatened to chain-gang the entire Rahman family to the police station if the couple refused to come with them for questioning.

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 likely bribed police department is what’s coming under fire by both the press, and the city’s community — which considers itself one of the most historically tolerant of religions in India. Although, even community leaders agree that is changing.

“Money didn’t make a difference in this city,” said Bonani Kakkar, founder of a citizens’ group that calls itself Public, an acronym for People United for Better Living in Calcutta “Today it does.”

The police chief expectedly was transferred. But the community remains in mourning and demands justice to be served.

For three weeks, students, families and ordinary people of all faiths flocked there every evening, signing giant banners and lighting up a narrow sidewalk with hundreds of small white candles. “Candles of conscience,” read a banner. “Why is Todi so cozy?” asked another, referring to the bride’s father, Ashok Todi, a prominent businessman and a men’s underwear baron.

[UPDATE] The father is the prime suspect and is being interrogated. He’s to take a lie detector test soon. (link)

[UPDATE 2]

Two men, real estate developer, Hasan and his associate Majid, who allegedly had threatened Rizwanur Rehman at the behest of Ashok Todi, have come out in the open and have confessed that they had pressurised the couple for a divorce.

It’s learnt that both the men were roped in by the Todi’s to negotiate with Rehman’s family and were sent by the Todi’s to negotiate a settlement at the behest of their solicitors. Majid confessed that he was asked to convince the Rehman family to agree to a divorce so that Priyanka could go back to her family. (link)

[UPDATE 3] Rizwanur’s last words.

“My father-in-law spoke to me. He told me that I would have to convert to Hinduism to which I agreed.

“I engaged myself in making new creatives for my father-in-law’s company, hoping that I would show it to him and things would take a positive shape.”(link)

15 years ago, Tina Healy of Victoria, Australia was a victim of rape and robbery. The man responsible was found two months later. Something that should have caused a bit of relief to Healy. But it didn’t.

Ms Healy said nothing prepared her for when her attacker was caught two months later and then having to go through the legal system.

She said there was no guide to tell her what to expect.

“There was just a lot of things I did not know, and of course every victim that comes into the system is a babe in the woods,” Ms Healy said. (link)

Healy found this to be a common case with several other victims she spoke to. So she, alongside other victims like her, worked with the Victorian police to put together a downloadable manual that would address already familiar concerns for new victims, “A Victim’s Guide to Support Services and the Criminal Justice System.”

Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said the statement and booklet followed extensive community consultation over the past 12 months, along with the input of victims of crime, such as Ms Healy, over several years.

Read the rest of this entry »

The DREAM Act rejected

October 25, 2007

Today the DREAM Act was officially rejected again — it felt short 8 additional votes needed to arrive at the senate floor. If passed, this bill would allow those between the age of 12 and 30, who immigrated with their parents illegally while under the age of 15, the opportunity to obtain permanent status.

During the six years of conditional status, the eligible immigrant would be required to either

(1) graduate from a two-year community college,

(2)complete at least two years towards a 4-year degree, or

(3) serve two years in the U.S. military.

After the six year period, an immigrant who meets at least one of these three conditions would be eligible to apply for legal permanent resident (green card) status. (link)

A cruel outcome, indeed. It’s as if no one is willing to help the most vulnerable. How much say did these children have when they emigrated their country of origin? Now they are expected to leave the land where they grew up and return somewhere they have no recollection of?

“Some of their stories are heartbreaking. Many know no other country, know no other language, and now they are being told to leave by our government.” – Lead sponsor Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill). (link)

Read the rest of this entry »

1964-2007

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African reggae star Lucky Dube was shot and killed in front of his son and daughter, SABC radio reported on Friday.

Dube, 43, was killed on Thursday night in an apparent car hijacking attempt and police were searching for three suspects, the radio said. (link)

Dube was more that a ‘South African reggae star.’ And it’s no justice to his life dedication of addressing poverty and promoting brotherhood to only refer to him as such.

Dube sang in English about social issues, racism, justice and poverty. With “Together As One” he was the first black person in South Africa whose songs were aired on a white radio station.

President Thabo Mbeki described him as “a great South African artist”, promoting efforts against crime in a country where, in 2006 alone, as many as 20,000 counts of murder have been recorded.(link)

Read the rest of this entry »

Well no scientist has just flat out said cigarettes are worse than crack. But they do agree,

tobacco is highly addictive. It is considered mood and behavior altering. Tobacco is believed to have an addictive potential comparable to alcohol, cocaine, and morphine.

Now that certainly should qualify as reason enough to not go near the cause for lung cancer. Or quit, if currently smoking. So who could still be blazing?

Even as antismoking campaigns have sharply reduced tobacco use in society at large, smoking has remained far more common among the poor of all races. (link)

In fact,

Officials (in Baltimore) said they were surprised when a recent study suggested that more than half of poor, black young adults smoke cigarettes — almost always menthol, almost always Newports.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yo no te voy a mentir, y decirte que se la solucion para la comunidades mas en peligro de contrair VIH o sida. Pueda ser que distribuyan condones en la escuelas o que manden a esa gente no tener sexo. Pero pienso que hay por lo menos una cosa con cual todo podemos ponernos en acuerdo: hay que distribuir mas informacion. Todos deben de preguntar preguntas sin averguenzo.

Por ejemplo, sabias que:

Pese a que los hispanos representan el 14 por ciento de la población general de EE.UU., conforman el 18 por ciento de los casos de sida en el país, según los Centros para el Control y Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC)? (enlace)

Segundo a la poblacion afroamericana, los latinos, segun el articulo de El Tiempo Latino, son los grupo etnico minoritario mas afectados por este virus.

Jose Gutierrez, mexicano, ha visto morir a más de 25 amistades a causa de la epidemia.

Read the rest of this entry »

At about midnight Friday, Felix Najera was sleeping on a cardboard box in front of the Iglesia Cristiana Betania Church on East 103rd Street, when one teen lit his pants on fire with a cigarette lighter, police said. Najera jumped up, “causing him to be engulfed in flames,” said Sgt. Carlos Nieves, a New York Police Department spokesman

Najera, 48, a Mexican immigrant, suffered burns over at least 40 percent and possibly as much as 75 percent of his body, including his face, chest, arms and abdomen. He was in critical condition Friday night at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, police said. (link)

A drunken homeless’ life in the New York city streets isn’t worth much to many. It’s reality. Even less if he is an Mexican immigrant. Surprisingly, upon hearing of the horrible plight of Felix Najera many residents collectively began voicing their rage.

“Whoever did this has no love for humanity,” Rev. Ariel Soto of Iglesia Cristiana Betania Church on East 103rd Street said. “The person who did this is psychologically disturbed. There is absolutely no meaning to this.”

A veteran NYPD detective who was passing out fliers with Najera’s photograph and an offer of a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, shook his head and said, “I can’t remember a case like this happening here, and I’ve been here since 1994.”

Read the rest of this entry »