Police recovered a skull and bones on Friday from Maharashtra’s Raigad district where former media tycoon Indrani Mukerjea’s daughter Sheena Bora was allegedly buried after being murdered in 2012, TV reports said, as investigations gathered pace into the crime that has riveted the country.
Officials have struggled to put together the pieces in the complex case and establish a motive for the high-profile murder ever since INX media co-founder Indrani was arrested in connection with Sheena’s death.
The former Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea’s wife, along with ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna and her driver Shyam Rai, allegedly abducted Sheena three years ago, strangulated her, burnt the body and dumped the remains in a forest on April 25, 2012.
Sources said Mumbai Police are now scouring the e-mail and phone call records of Indrani and Khanna to unravel the missing links in the run up to the murder. Investigators also suspect the involvement of two more people in the murder mystery after Rai’s version of the events was found to be riddled with holes.
“The way the crime has been executed is serious in nature. And there are more people involved in it,” said a police officer.
Police have sent the recovered samples to Mumbai’s JJ Hospital for a DNA identification test. Some body parts recovered in 2012 had also been handed over to the same hospital but doctors couldn’t ascertain the age, sex or cause of death. These remains will now be given to the authorities for further probe.
Sources say the police are pursuing several lines of inquiry to solve the murder, including the possibility of a financial dispute, an honour killing or fears of Sheena exposing her real relationship with Indrani.
The sleuths are now questioning Khanna, who was remanded to police custody till August 31 by a Mumbai court on Friday. Khanna, who was arrested in Kolkata, was also found in possession of a Norwegian and an Irish visa.
Police sources also said Peter Mukerjea had little knowledge of the murder being plotted or executed because he was in London with adopted daughter Vidhie on the day of the murder.
Indrani’s son Mikhail Bora, who has said he knew why his mother killed Sheena, also arrived in Mumbai on Friday for further questioning.
In a statement to the police, Rai said Indrani called Khanna on the night of April 23, 2012 and had a long conversation. Khanna flew down to Mumbai the next day and stayed at a hotel booked by Indrani. Around 7pm, both went to Bandra in a car and picked up Sheena.
Rai told the police Khanna strangled Sheena, packed the body in a bag with Indrani’s help and stowed it away in the trunk of the car.
The driver said he then drove to a secluded forested place near Gagode village, where they poured petrol over the bag and set it on fire. It was around 4am in the morning of April 25 that the body was destroyed, Rai told the police.
They left the place only after Indrani and Khanna were sure the bag was completely burnt and there were no remains, Rai said.
But investigators noticed the sequence of events between 7pm to 4am were missing from Rai’s statements, triggering suspicions of more persons being involved in the murder.
Peter Mukerjea has denied knowledge of Sheena’s disappearance or murder but has flip-flopped on whether he knew Sheena was his wife’s daughter and not sister – as was rumoured earlier. His son Rahul Mukerjea was in a relationship with the victim and has said her received a break-up text from her the day she died.
Police said they want to recover the object with which Sheena was killed and also the car in which she was abducted and taken to the forest. They said they have taken possession of Khanna's passport, laptop and mobile phone and sought his custody on the ground that a detailed probe was required to be done in the case.
(with inputs from agencies)