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Pankaj Vohra

Merchants of deceit, diabolism, and death

Peter Mukerjea’s statements so far show him in nothing but a dismal light.

The entire saga of Sheena Bora's mysterious and baffling disappearance appears to have overshadowed all other important news, forcing TV channels and the print media to continue giving regular updates by the hour. It is a mesh of deceit, falsehood, greed and insecurity, which also reflects the casual approach of the Maharashtra police in general and the Mumbai police in particular in tracking down a young woman who was reported missing in 2012 and never heard of again. It is also a tale which makes it abundantly clear how the various characters in the plot not only failed to protect the helpless victim, but have willingly or unknowingly participated in covering a crime so macabre.

While the spotlight continues to be on Indrani Mukerjea, a media baron in her own right, who is former Star CEO Pratim, alias Peter Mukerjea's second wife, the role of many others including Peter needs to be thoroughly probed. Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria has claimed that it was an open and shut case, which proved beyond any doubt the involvement of Indrani in her daughter's ghastly murder with the help of more than a few accomplices. However, it is unclear why the cops are silent on the facts that have emanated from the detailed interrogation of the various people quizzed so far.

There have been reports that due diligence was never carried out by the police in either Raigad or Mumbai in the matter and even now it is doubtful that the officers working on the case have done the "nishaan dehi" (re-enactment of the entire sequence of crime by involving the arrested and detained persons in the exercise most imperative to build up a fool-proof case before the trial court).

In fact, there are many loopholes in the investigations that need to be plugged by the police before proper charges are initiated. Indrani Mukerjea has so far denied having killed her daughter and through her lawyers is trying to send out the message that the police was coercing her to make a confession. Confession before the police, unless corroborated by a lot of circumstantial and other evidences, is not sufficient.

There have been reports that the DNA samples of Sheena Bora have gone missing and therefore the defence will have a field day at a later date by asking the prosecution to produce a body or establish that the victim (Sheena) was indeed murdered.

Peter Mukerjea, who headed such a powerful media group and later founded another, seems to have come out as a gullible man who lacked all inquisitive traits associated with anyone connected with the press in any manner. He evidently had no nose for news going by the corollary that he could not make any sense of the sordid goings-on in his own life unless, however, he has wilfully chosen to play an ignorant fool to hoodwink the police and the media. What is confounding and incomprehensible are his conflicting and repeatedly revised versions to TV channels even before being questioned by the police. And why are Maria and his team allowing him to do so? Peter's statements so far show him in nothing but a dismal light.

His Doon Schoolmates, like everyone else, are as dumbfounded by his gross or put on ignorance and believe that he should be grilled thoroughly to ascertain his role, if any, in the commissioning of the crime or covering it up. Given that he believed his wife, who comes out as a calculating and ambitious woman, who could go to any length, was he subsequently aware of any foul play regarding Sheena? If yes, then is he not guilty of suppressing information about the murder most foul and thus liable to be prosecuted?

The most important aspect of any crime is the motive. The police appear to be working on some theories and in order to make their case airtight will have to establish a clear motive. One possibility as of now is that since Sheena was in a relationship with Rahul, Peter's son from his first marriage, Indrani was perhaps petrified that her daughter would spill the beans and while it would cement her (Sheena's relationship) it would ruin her (Indrani's) own with Peter, thus leading to the end of the woven story. The second theory the police is working on is that Peter also had a fling with Sheena and after Indrani, who has had troubled liaison with several men, herself discovered it, she decided to kill her daughter, who, according to unconfirmed reports, was expecting at the time of her murder. The third theory, which is very weak is that property or the money received by Indrani during the INX liquidation deal, was in Sheena's account and she was refusing to part with it.

Despite the fact that the cops claim that they have an unassailable case and may have decided to turn Indrani's driver and accomplice into an approver, the findings so far are substantially inadequate to secure a conviction of the accused persons. More convincing evidence needs to be dug out. A scenario that no one killed Sheena should certainly not emerge after the trial. Between us.

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