The alleged murder of Sheena Bora, daughter of 9X Media founder Indrani Mukherjea, continues to remain a mystery even as the Mumbai police are trying to unearth the motive behind the heinous crime.
How was Sheena Bora murdered?
In his statement to Khar police that arrested him, Indrani's Shyam ManoharRai had revealed that Indrani plotted Sheena's murder and her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna executed the murder in Pen Tehsil of Raigad district in Maharashtra, according to the Hindustan Times, which claims to have accessed a copy of Rai's statement to the police.
Rai told the police that Indrani took him to Gagode village in Pen on 23 April and called Khanna on the same night. She had booked a room at Hotel Hilltop in Worli for Khanna, who arrived there on 24 April from Kolkata.
They then picked up Sheena from Linking Road, Bandra. Explaining the murder, Rai said that Khanna strangled Sheena in the car, after which they (Indrani and Khanna) stuffed her body in a bag that was kept in the boot of the car.
"In our investigation, the accused driver Shyam Rai confessed to this murder. The victim was strangulated in the car and then the body was disposed off by using petrol. Indrani was present in the car during this time," Daily News & Analysis quoted Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria as saying.
Rai then drove the duo to an isolated forest near Gagode village where, at around 4 am on 25 April, they dumped the bag with the body after setting it ablaze, the driver told interrogators. Rai added that they all left the crime scene after ensuring that the bag was destroyed completely.
The alleged murder mystery unfolded with the arrest of Rai, the driver of Indrani and her husband Peter Mukherjea, former Star TV CEO. Rai was arrested on 21 August for illegal possession of a pistol and was being interrogated for the same when he confessed to killing Sheena on 24 April, 2012.
Based on Rai's revelations, the Khar police arrested Indrani on Tuesday (25 August) night. Initially, Indrani referred to the deceased as her sister, but later, it was revealed that Sheena was Indrani's daughter.
The Mumbai police and the Kolkata police together nabbed Khanna from his friend's flat in Alipore, Kolkata on Wednesday (26 August) for interrogation. After grilling Khanna for around two hours, the Mumbai police arrested him and sought his five-day transit remand on Thursday.
"Mumbai Police approached us for help in arresting Khanna who was initially untraceable. Then he was found from his friend's flat on Pen Road in Alipore area and arrested," PTI had quoted Kolkata Police Joint CP (Crime) Pallab Kanti Ghosh as saying.
Remains of her body
On 23 May, 2012, a villager found Sheena's remains at the spot where the trio had dumped it a month ago. On getting information, the Pen police arrived at the spot and found the decomposing body of the girl in a burnt suitcase, Mid-Day reported.
However, the Pen police are unaware of the whereabouts of the dead body's remains as the then Police Patil (police chief), Santosh Parashuram Patil, who had the information, died two years ago. The doctor who had conducted the autopsy on Sheena's charred body had given samples to the Pen police for DNA analysis, but it reportedly never reached a lab. Now the samples are untraceable.
"I still remember that the burnt and decomposing body of the woman was found near the mango tree. However, only the then Police Patil would know what was done further or whether any records were kept, but he died two years ago, so no one knows," the present Police Patil Dhamri Dhoodhuskar said.
However, a police team that was sent to Pen to investigate the crime scene, claims to have found some skeletal remains from the spot where Sheena's charred body was found in 2012. The remains have been brought to Mumbai for DNA tests. The samples will be matched with Sheena's biological parents – Indrani and her first husband Siddharth Das, The Indian Express reported.
- Sheena Bora, the victim and Mikhail Bora, Sheena's brother. Both are Indrani's children supposedly from Indrani's first husband Siddharth Das.
- Sanjeev Khanna – Indrani's second husband.
- Peter Mukherjea – Indrani's present husband.
- Rahul Mukherjea – Peter's son from another wife. Rahul and Sheena were allegedly in a relationship before Sheena's death.
- Durga Rani Bora and Upendra Kumar Bora – mother and father of Indrani and grandparents of Mikhail Bora and Sheena Bora.
What many of them have claimed so far?
Indrani Mukherjea – After allegedly killing Sheena in 2012, she told everyone that Sheena has been sent to the US for further studies. She then allegedly used Sheena's phone to send resignation letter to her office and a break-up message to Rahul.
Indrani has reportedly told the interrogators that Sheena was born out of a forced physical relationship between her and her (Indrani's) own father.
"While being interrogated about her past relationships, Indrani broke down and spilled the beans. She told the police about her relationships with Siddharth Das and Sanjeev Khanna before marrying Peter Mukerjea," Catch News quoted a police source as saying.
"When questioned further, she told the us about how her father forced himself on her during her childhood...she later said she gave birth to Sheena when she was 17. It was the result of her physical relationship with her father," the source added.
However, Upendra Bora, Indrani's father, refuted Indrani's claims, India Today reports.
Sheena's birth certificates issued in Guwahati also names her grandparents as her parents. However, the Assam police claim that it is forged.
"Although Sheena was born in 1989, the certificate handed over by Mikhail was issued in 2004... Indrani might have forged other documents to hide the truth (about Sheena's parentage)", a police official from Assam said.
One of the three main accused in the crime, Sanjeev Khanna has claimed that he did not strangulate Sheena, contradicting both Indrani and her driver's allegations. He told the interrogators that he was asleep when Sheena was killed.
"I was in the back seat [in the car]. Indrani was sitting next to me. At 6 p.m., she made a call to someone. Then I dozed off. [Shyamvar] Rai was the driver. I woke up and saw Sheena was dead. Her body was next to me," The Hindu quoted Khanna as saying in his statement.
He further claimed that he had come to Mumbai to meet his daughter Vidhie not Sheena, The Times of India reported.
After Indrani was arrested and the police started the investigation, Peter told them that Indrani introduced Sheena and Mikhail to him as her siblings. However, he later contradicted his statement by saying Sheena had told him in 2011 that she is Indrani's daughter, not sister.
"Sheena had told me... Indrani has given you wrong information. I am not her sister, I am actually her daughter," The Times of India quoted Mukherjea as saying.
"Of course I couldn't take that at face value, because all these years I believed that she was Indrani's sister and Indrani had told me that. I then confronted Indrani about it and she said it is utter rubbish and this has been fed to Sheena from somewhere else and it is completely, completely untrue and I was not to believe that at all," NDTV quoted Mukherjea as telling a news channel.
Mikhail has claimed that he could have been Indrani's next target over a property dispute. He then claimed to be in possession of some evidence to prove Indrani murdered his sister.
"I have evidence – it is conversation between Peter M and Sheena. I have photographs too, including Rahul," he said.
The Mumbai police are investigating the case as a murder over property dispute. They are also exploring the honour killing angle as Indrani was against Rahul and Sheena's relationship.