Even as information on the grisly murder of Sheena Bora and an inexplicably weird web of interpersonal relationships tumbles out of the closet of Indrani Mukerjea, the wife of former Star TV CEO Peter Mukerjea, some questions are likely to remain unanswered for reasons unknown. Though every minute detail of the case is being trailed by a zealous media, the one most important question that seems to have skipped the radar is: who was the anonymous caller who tipped the police over a month ago about Sheena Bora’s disappearance?
The details about this “informer”, whose call made Mumbai police put Indrani Mukerjea and her driver Shyamvar Rai on their radar are likely to remain the best-kept secret about this gruesome murder mystery. The fact that the information might not be necessary during the trial of the case, only strengthens the apprehension.
“It sounds bizarre. Why would someone call three years after the murder? What might be the motive? This is intriguing,” said Abha Singh, lawyer and social activist.
According to reports that emerged soon after Indrani’s arrest, the police said they nabbed Shyamvar Rai for illegal possession of a firearm, after laying a trap for him. It is alleged that during his interrogation in the said matter, he divulged details about the execution of Sheena Bora’s murder plan.
Within a few days, police sources claimed that they had come to know of Sheena Bora’s disappearance over a month ago, after an anonymous informer tipped the police about it. The police then put Indrani and her driver on the radar, but quietly. According to media reports, the police awaited Indrani’s return to India from the United Kingdom, before they picked up Shyamvar Rai. They apparently did not want Indrani to get a wind of the police web and then not return to the country.
The motive behind the call by the anonymous informer is shrouded in mystery. But the motive behind Sheena’s murder is “quite clear” in the eyes of the Mumbai police. Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria told journalists that they had a fair idea about why Sheena was murdered. But he did not say how the police got an inkling about a matter which was not registered in any police station of the state under any sections of the Indian Penal Code. It is on record now that Rahul Mukerjea, Peter Mukerjea’s son from his first wife, approached Khar and Worli police stations in a desperate attempt to register a missing person’s complaint about his then girlfriend Sheena Bora in April 2012. Though Rahul had suspected foul play, the police did not register a missing person complaint after talking to Indrani.
Highly placed police sources have confirmed to The Sunday Guardian that neither an ADR (Accidental Death Report), nor an FIR (First Information Report) was registered by the Raigad police in 2012 after they had found the unidentified body reported by the villagers.
So, this means that there was no mention or information about anything pertaining to Sheena Bora or to the half-charred, decomposed body found in a ravine at Pen in Raigad, in any police records. There were no police complaints that might have led the Mumbai police to get a clue about the murder which is being looked at as a “perfect crime”.
Things seemed to be going well till almost four days ago when Indrani Mukerjea was arrested and then both Sheena’s brother and boyfriend claimed they suspected foul play in the matter since a long time. Mikhail, Sheena’s brother who resides in Guwahati, also went ahead to claim that he was the next target on Indrani’s radar. Peter Mukerjea has said in various news interviews that he did not suspect any wrongdoing. He indeed believed that Sheena was alive and going ahead with her life in the United States.
“Why would someone open his or her mouth in front of the police so many years after the murder? Who is likely to benefit from this turn of events?” wondered Abha Singh.
RAIGAD POLICE DIDN’T CHECK
The other issue which is intriguing is the lack of information about the exact procedure followed by the Raigad police after the discovery of the body. A police constable apparently buried the remains of what is now believed to be Sheena’s body, at a place close to where the charred body was thrown in a suitcase. That the skeletal remains stayed there, buried deep inside a ravine, almost after three monsoons at a place which is known to have heavy rainfall, is interesting.
On Thursday, a team of Mumbai police visited the spot and recovered some skeletal remains believed to be those of Sheena Bora’s. Rakesh Maria said that they had sent the remains for forensic investigation. But the JJ Hospital authorities too said that the Raigad police had sent them some remains of a charred body in 2012, but after that the police did not bother to come back and check on them.
“We have some bones, teeth and hair. We had prepared a report that the age and sex of the victim could not be determined because the remains were badly charred. The Khar police has written a letter to us now. We have handed over those remains to them,” Dr T.P. Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital, told The Sunday Guardian.
CASE UNTIL NOW
On 21 August 2015, the police arrested Shyamvar Rai on charges of illegal possession of arms. He was the former driver of Indrani Mukerjea.
He later made a confession to the police that he, along with Indrani and Sanjeev Khanna, were involved in the murder of Sheena Bora on 24 April 2012. Sanjeev Khanna is the second husband of Indrani. She used to introduce Sheena and her brother Mikhail as her siblings, to people around her.
Indrani’s third husband Peter Mukerjea, who was the CEO of Star TV, has also claimed that Indrani told him too that Sheena and Mikhail were her siblings. Peter said he did not know that he was Indrani’s third husband. In various interviews, he has claimed that he was told by Indrani only about her previous marriage to Kolkata-based businessman Sanjeev Khanna. He had believed all the while that he was her second husband. Vidhie, the daughter of Indrani who was fathered by Sanjeev Khanna, was later adopted by Peter and Indrani. Vidhie continues to stay with Peter Mukerjea.
According to news reports, Vidhie too has said she was unaware that Sheena and Mikhail were Indrani’s children and not siblings. Peter Mukerjea later claimed that his son from his first wife, Rahul Mukerjea, had told him about Indrani being Sheena’s mother. Rahul was in a relationship with Sheena, which was actively disapproved of by Indrani. Peter has said that Sheena too once told him that Indrani was her mother. He said, when he confronted Indrani, she flatly refused it. He said that since he believed her blindly, he did not dig further.
Indrani, who confessed in the police lock-up that she was the mother and not sister of Sheena Bora, covered her crime by claiming that Sheena was sent to the US. Peter has claimed that she even showed him Sheena’s photos from the US. It is not clear how Peter did not ask about the source of funding to Sheena for her three-year stay in Los Angeles.
WEB OF IGNORANCE
“People in the social circuit of Indrani and Peter are now expressing surprise at Sheena’s disappearance. It is highly unlikely that nobody knew about it. The people who frequented their circuits are themselves high-flyers who would often go abroad. If Sheena used to attend social functions with Indrani and Peter, how did anybody not think of meeting her in the US? How did nobody think of this disappearance previously? They would have known if they didn’t see her at all during any of their visits,” said a senior IPS officer.
Surprise is also being expressed about Indrani Mukerjea’s true age. She has claimed to be 43 years old. When Sheena was murdered, she (Sheena) was 24 years old and Indrani would have been 40 years old. Mikhail is over a year younger to Sheena.
The birth certificate of Sheena and an affidavit filed by Indrani about her separation with her first husband are also in discussion for ascertaining more information about her. Mikhail has till now stayed mum about the name of his biological father.
At present, Mikhail is in Mumbai to answer the questions posed by a team of select members of the Mumbai police. The members of the family are being interrogated jointly. The probe is being led by Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria. Indrani and Sanjeev Khanna’s police custody is to end on 31 August, when the police is likely to seek an extension for their remand.