Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the murder of her firstborn child Sheena Bora, briefly fainted in court on Sunday while younger daughter Vidhie wept as the magistrate allowed them to meet on the court premises.

    Besides allowing the emotional meeting, the court extended till September 5 the police custody of INX media co-founder Indrani and her two accomplices — Kolkata-based former husband Sanjeev Khanna and driver Shyam Rai — who were arrested this August for the gruesome murder of Sheena three years ago.

    Police pressed against Indrani the additional charge of attempting to kill Sheena’s sibling, Guwahati-based Mikhail Bora, following his allegation that their mother gave him a spiked drink on the day of the murder.

    Indrani, the wife of former media baron Peter Mukerjea, briefly fainted in the Bandra courtroom as the public prosecutor argued that their custody be further extended.

    The public prosecutor said investigators suspect the involvement of some others outside Maharashtra in the 2012 murder and so more interrogation of the accused trio was required.

    Read: Attempt to kill Mikhail added to charges in Sheena murder case

    Police still chased the motive behind Sheena’s murder and were trying to ascertain where the accused dumped the 24-year-old victim’s clothes, mobile phone and other belongings after the killing.

    Khanna’s lawyer argued that police were only awaiting the reports of the forensic tests and there was no need to extend his police custody. He could be sent to judicial custody instead.

    Indrani’s lawyers that alleged police were using pressure tactics such as manhandling her in custody to force a confession from her.

    Her lawyers wondered if there was anything more to ask since she had been interrogated for around 90 hours following her arrest on August 25. But investigators have contended that she and the other two accused have clammed up and not cooperating with the investigation.

    Indrani is accused of strangling Sheena in a car with the help of Khanna and the driver. Her body was later set on fire and buried in a forest in Raigad district on April 24, 2012.

    Police have found some of the skeletal remains after the driver, who was arrested on August 21 for keeping an unlicenced firearm, took officers to the secret burial site.

    (With inputs from agencies)

    Read: Cops take accused to Raigad to recreate crime scene

    Sheena murder probe to focus on passport, call records, money trail

    Full coverage: Sheena Bora murder mystery

Why Ishrat probe should give you hope for our democracy

  • Varghese K George, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Jul 04, 2013 13:40 IST

Ishrat's relatives collect her body from a hospital in Ahmedabad on June 18, 2004. File photo

CBI on Wednesday submitted chargesheet to Ahmedabad additional chief magistrate in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have not been named in the chargesheet.

What makes the Ishrat encounter case unique and how is the CBI probe different from all others cases?

The BJP reacted to the CBI findings in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case in an entirely predictable fashion. Explicitly or by implication, the BJP's position is as follows:

1) The Congress government at the centre is using the CBI to target Gujarat chief minister and BJP strongman Narendra Modi.

2) There have been dozens of encounter killings in India, but Ishrat Jahan case is being vigorously pursued to appease Muslims. Why is no one investigating other encounters?

3) Even if it was a fake encounter, she was a terrorist. So why are we crying over the death of a terrorist?

4) Investigations into the role of Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer Rajinder Kumar amounts to an assault on IB and therefore cannot be tolerated.

The BJP position on the issue is shared by a lot of people who I have been talking to on this issue over the last fortnight. Most of them are not admirers of Modi.

Several of them are serving police officers; some of them have been critical of Modi’s governance record.  They too make more or less the same four points as above – indicating a good success for the BJP propaganda on this issue.

I disagree for the following reasons:

1) Police officers will think twice before -- if they ever do -- similar cold-blooded murders. They now know that law could catch up and political masters may not be able to protect them.

2) Yes, there have been many encounters earlier too. But what makes the Ishrat Jahan killing unique is the fact that the BJP’s 2007 Gujarat campaign was primarily run on the efficiency ascribed to the state government -- and liquidating suspected security threats was a key component of that efficiency.

Therefore, not only that extra-judicial killings were done by the state police, but those were trumpeted as a grand success of the government.

3) Even if Ishrat was a terrorist, a civilized society run by rule of law cannot -- and must not -- pardon her murder in cold blood.

4) The CBI investigation was not initiated or ordered by the Congress government. It is the result of a court intervention. It all began with a magistrate in Gujarat stating that the encounter was fake.

 Gujarat approached the Supreme Court to stall the investigation by a SIT, but failed to. The investigation is being monitored by the Gujarat high court at every stage.

5) Nobody can be insulated from a criminal investigation by virtue of his position – whether he is prime minister or an IB official.

India is still an evolving democracy. Extra-judicial killings have happened in this country with such immunity that police and army rarely bothered about it.

To cite just one case, more than a 1000 people have remained untraced after the defeat of separatism in Punjab. But all that is no excuse to argue that we should not attempt to better things.

The probe into Ishrat killing raises my hope in India’s future as a democracy ruled by law.

(Views expressed are personal)


also read

Abducted. Drugged. Shot.

Ishrat Jahan killed in 'fake and cold blooded encounter': CBI

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