Even as Mumbai's police commissioner Rakesh Maria revealed in a late night media briefing that they have a "fair idea" about the motive behind Sheena Bora's murder, prime accused Indrani Mukerjea's husband Peter said that he didn't believe his wife could have murdered Sheena. He was speaking to Times Now's editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami in an exclusive interview in Mukerjea's Worli residence.
"I'm completely, completely in a state of dismay and shock at having heard these charges. And I have absolutely no idea that this was something that had taken place," he said. "And even till today I believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty and I think that let law take its own course, let police do its own investigation fully and completely and transparently and then truth will prevail."
On Thursday night, Mumbai's top cop told journalists that they have traced and recorded the statement of the person who sent out an email resignation signed on behalf of Sheena Bora after she went missing. He confirmed that the same person also sent out another mail to Sheena's landlord at the time to cancel her lease and licence agreement on the rented flat she was occupying before she went missing.
"We have traced and recorded the statement of a person who had sent the emails to her employer and landlord," Maria told journalists on Thursday night. "The person concerned signed these emails on behalf of Sheena Bora at the behest of the lady accused (Indrani Mukerjea)."
The police commissioner did not specify who this person was, though he confirmed that the resignation letter to Sheena's employer was sent on 7 May, 2012 and the letter to her landlord was sent in July 2012, at least a couple of months after Sheena is believed to have been murdered. According to police investigation so far, Sheena Bora is said to have been strangled to death on 24 April, 2012.
The police on Thursday also obtained a transit remand for Sanjeev Khanna, who is the third accused in the case along with Indrani and her driver Shyam Rai. Khanna, who is Indrani's ex-husband, is being brought to Mumbai from Kolkata for questioning, said Maria.
Our teams have gone to Kolkata,Guwahati & other parts of country for investigation: Rakesh Maria on Sheena Bora case pic.twitter.com/IBmEwpDYBv— ANI (@ANI_news) August 27, 2015
Sheena Told Peter She Was Indrani's Daughter
While Peter admitted that Sheena had told him in 2011 that Indrani was trying to hide that she was actually Sheena's mother, not her sister, he said he chose to believe his wife rather than Sheena.
Sheena apparently approached Peter when he was in Mumbai for his niece's wedding in 2011, and told him she could no longer "stay with this lie". He said that he had found the confession "difficult to digest" and that though he had wondered about the truth of the matter, he chose to not believe it "in its entirety" and instead confronted his wife about Sheena's claims, which Indrani had dismissed as baseless.
"Of course I could not take that at face value," he said. "I then confronted Indrani about it and she said that this is being fed to Sheena from somewhere else and it was completely untrue and (told me) not to believe her."
Peter said in the off-camera, audio interview that his wife told him that both Sheena and Peter's son Rahul, who was in a relationship with Sheena at that time, were trying to break up Indrani and Peter's marriage.
According to Peter, Rahul and Sheena had conferred with each other and both of them told him the same version — that Indrani was Sheena's mother, and that she was trying to shield that information from him. Peter claimed that he chose to disbelieve both his son and Sheena since he had absolute faith in his wife.
"In my relationship with my wife, I believe 9.9 times out of 10 unless it is proven that she is wrong," he said. "She is my wife after all, I have chosen to live with her for the rest of my life with her."
Peter and Indrani Mukerjea in 2013.
He claimed that there was "no question" of him disbelieving his wife, even if it was his own son who told him a separate narrative. He claimed that he also suspected his son may have been unhappy with his second marriage to Indrani. He apparently told Rahul that he had already spoken to Indrani about Sheena's claims, and believed his wife's version.
"There was no question of me not believing my wife, you know, a woman who I had married and had lived with over 10 years at that point," he said. "And so why would I have any reason to believe my son just because he said so. I needed to have very clear evidence."
Peter in his interview revealed that his wife did not approve of Sheena and Rahul's relationship as she believed "Sheena could do better". He claimed that Indrani thought Sheena could have a more stable life if she settled with someone who had a "proper career" — Rahul was at the time unemployed. "This information I shared with Rahul numerous times," he said.
'Wasn't Aware That Sheena Had Disappeared'
Admitting that it was strange that he hadn't heard directly from Sheena for the past few years, Peter claimed that he believed that Sheena was in Los Angeles all this time. He said that he did not try to get in touch with Sheena because he believed that Sheena was "persona non grata", that their ties were broken, and that she did not want to be stay in touch with Peter and the rest of the family.
File photo of Sheena Bora and Indrani Mukerjea.
"I had no real reason to be in contact with her. I had a mobile number which she had as a student," he said. "She was far more in contact with my daughter Vidhie, wife Indrani. I had no reason to feel isolated in that relationship."
He also claimed that there were no financial issues between Sheena and Indrani, and that he had never heard them "squabble about money".
Day Of Indrani's Arrest
Describing the day of Indrani's arrest on August 25, Peter Mukerjea told Times Now that he was returning from the gym when he got a phone call from his daughter Vidhie that the police were at their residence. Subsequently, Indrani was arrested, and he hasn't been able to speak to her ever since, though he "hoped" she was being treated well, he said.
Peter said that he and his daughter Vidhie were in Rome at the time of the murder in 2012, while Indrani was in Mumbai. He said that his wife had told him that she was visiting Mumbai to meet with her brother Mikhail (who has now claimed to be Indrani's son). He said that Indrani had told him she was helping Sheena return to Guwahati with Mikhail after conferring with her parents, and that following that Sheena would go abroad to study in the US. He claimed that Indrani had shown him an email, purportedly from Sheena, where she had confided to Indrani that she needed her help in breaking up with Rahul.
"That is my understanding of what happened," he said. "Today, with hindsight, I could probably admit to you that I was blindsided by my love for my wife and I can had every reason not to believe her."
His interview on Thursday suggested that while he now had doubts about some details of his wife's statements to him, he still believed that Indrani could be innocent. "I don't know what to believe... The facts need to be proven," he said.
"The issue at hand for me is more than whether she was sister or daughter or mother or cousin or aunt," he said. "The issue at hand for me really is that Indrani, my wife, is being charged with murder and kidnapping and disposing of evidence."
Watch the full interview below: