A third suspect in the Sheena Bora murder case was arrested on Wednesday evening in Kolkata. Sanjeev Khanna, Indrani Mukerjea's ex-husband, has also been arrested in the case. Earlier, Indrani and her driver Shyam Rai had been arrested for allegedly strangling 24-year-old Bora to death before getting rid of her body by burning it in a forested area 112 kilometres from Mumbai, police said. While it was earlier believed that Indrani was Sheena's sister, it now appears that Sheena was actually Indrani's daughter, a fact that Indrani had kept hidden from public eye.
Khanna will be produced in Bandra court tomorrow, DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni told ANI. He was arrested from his friend's flat in Alipore, for his alleged involvement in the murder, Kolkata Police Joint CP (Crime) Pallab Kanti Ghosh said.
Sanjeev Khanna (face covered) is escorted out of a police station in Kolkata on August 26, 2015.
Indrani Mukerjea is the former CEO of NewsX, and married to former STAR India CEO Peter Mukerjea. Peter has told journalists that he had no idea that Sheena was missing, and that she was actually his wife's daughter. "I don't understand at all with regard to my wife," he said on Wednesday. "Sheena Bora is her sister, I believed all these years, and now I am being told that she was her daughter. Whom I thought was her brother, is now her son from an earlier marriage, which I was not aware of. I was aware of one marriage and not so many others. So, now there are number of things that are appearing to me which are completely new to me."
Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria confirmed that Khanna, who is a resident of Kolkata's Hastings Road, is an accused in the case and told reporters that Sheena was first strangulated and then her body was doused in petrol and burned. Maria told journalists that the murder had taken place on 24 April in 2012. Now a departmental inquiry has been ordered into the case by police to determine the reason why the murder was not investigated earlier.
So far, three people have been arrested in the case. Mumbai police have also summoned Peter's brother Gautam Mukerjea.
Lies And A Three Year Cover-Up
Though Sheena's body had been found three years ago outside Mumbai on 23 May, 2012, by the Raigad police, her body wasn't identified until recently. An Accident Death Report (ADR) was registered in Raigad but no headway was made in the investigation. Meanwhile, a missing person's complaint was registered in May 2012 at the Khar police station after Sheena went missing from her Union Park Colony residence. However Indrani reportedly told her husband and others that Sheena was living in the US and even provided him with Facebook photos of Sheena celebrating Diwali there, Peter told journalists.
According to Mumbai police commissioner Maria, Sheena was kidnapped from outside the National College in western suburbs in 2012.
Indrani's driver Rai, who had been picked up in an unrelated arms case, apparently told the police during interrogation that he had been involved in a murder case in 2012, and that the charred remains of the body were buried in Lonavala.
The remains of Sheena's body were then exhumed and sent for DNA tests, confirming that the victim in the case was indeed her. Indrani Mukerjea was arrested last night following this, after Rai apparently told police of her alleged complicity in the crime. The duo was produced today at Bandra court and have been remanded to police custody till next Monday.
According to preliminary reports, police suspect a possible property dispute and personal enmity leading to the brutal murder.
A Conspiracy Of Silence
The startling revelations of this murder suggest that Sheena's disappearance for so long could have only remained a secret because of a studied silence from her family, friends, and acquaintances. Even as police say that more arrests are likely in the case, Indrani's son Mikhail has claimed that he knew the motive behind the murder but would not disclose it.
Mikhail, who is based in Guwahati, told reporters that he had had not heard from Sheena since February 2012. He said that Indrani had told her she was in the US.
"There was no contact till 2015. Till yesterday, I did not have any clue where she was. There was no contact," he said. "Till last September, she, Indrani Mukerjea, came here. Then also I asked her where is my sister, and only yesterday I came to know, from news channels that she has passed away."
Indrani Mukerjea, the promoter of the INX Group with husband Peter, during the musical Chivas time dinner, organised by Le Cordon Bleu's Chef, Yann Barraud in Mumbai on September 17, 2007.
On the arrest of his mother and subsequent turns in the case, he said, "I want justice, that's it. Because she is my elder sister. And I know some girl can't be murdered like that without any reason." He confirmed that there were several long-standing arguments between Indrani and Sheena in the past.
"I don't want to say anything clearly right now because I want to see the reaction of the police, how they react and what is the outcome... She (Indrani) is in custody," he said. "After that, what report comes, I will decide what to do, the next step, what I have to do."
Peter Mukerjea has also pleaded complete ignorance of the crime, and has been unable to explain his indifference in keeping track of Sheena's whereabouts for the past three years.
"(Sheena's disappearance) is something I am finding out now. I was told that Sheena has gone to the US. I am not on Facebook, but I was shown these pictures of Los Angeles or wherever she was. I didn't have her contact number. My son had told me 'see, something is not right', but I said her parents may not be happy with it, so she might have moved to the US," he said.
Meanwhile many of Sheena's friends and acquaintances told journalists on TV on Wednesday that they had suspected that Sheena was in trouble, but had been unable to contact her. They were under the impression that she was living in the US, they said, but had lost contact with her as her Facebook profile had been deactivated.
Sheena came to Mumbai from Assam in 1990s along with Indrani and completed her BA in Economics from St Xavier's College. In 2011, she got a job with Reliance Mumbai Metro but suddenly stopped coming to duty, police said. In the same year, her Facebook account was deactivated.
(with PTI inputs)