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

Islamist group kills 43 school students in Nigeria

  • Reuters, Damaturu
  • |
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2014 20:35 IST

Suspected Boko Haram Islamists killed 43 people on Tuesday when they attacked secondary school students as they slept in the latest school massacre to hit Nigeria's troubled northeast.

The raid at 2:00 am (0100 GMT) targeted the federal government college in the town of Buni Yadi in Yobe state and bore the hallmarks of a similar attack last September in which 40 died.

The attackers reportedly hurled explosives into student residential buildings, sprayed gunfire into rooms and hacked a number students to death.

A senior medical source at the Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital in Yobe's capital Damaturu said the gunmen only targeted male students and that female students were "spared".

"So far, 43 bodies have been brought (from the college) and are lying at the morgue," said the source, who requested anonymity as he was not authorised to discuss death tolls.

Yobe has been one of the hardest areas in Boko Haram's four-and-half year Islamist uprising, which has killed thousands of people.

The name Boko Haram means "Western Education is forbidden".

The group has been blamed for waves of school attacks, especially in Yobe, where scores of students have been slaughtered in the last year.

The state's police chief, Sanusi Rufai, who confirmed the attack and had given an earlier death toll of 29, was headed to Buni Yadi, roughly 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Damaturu, with Governor Ibrahim Geidam to assess the damage.

Convoy of ambulances
Damaturu resident Babagoni Musa told AFP that four ambulances carrying dead bodies drove past his shop, which falls on the road from Buni Yadi.

"They had tree branches on them which is a sign used here to signify a corpse is in a vehicle," he said.

People whose relatives were studying at the college had surrounded the morgue and were desperately seeking information about those killed, forcing the military take control of the building to restore calm, the hospital source said.

Yobe is one of three northeastern states which was placed under emergency rule in May last year when the military launced a massive operation to crush the Boko Haram uprising.

At least 40 students were killed in September at an agriculture training college in Yobe after Boko Haram gunmen stormed a series of dorms in the middle of the night and sprayed gunfire on sleeping students.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in the northeast since the emergency measures were imposed, despite the enhanced military presence.

Boko Haram, declared a terrorist organisation by Nigeria and the United States, has said it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north.

Geidam and the governor of neighbouring Borno state, Kashim Shettima, have fiercely criticised the military's record in combatting Boko Haram, insisting that more resources were needed to defeat the emboldened and increasingly well-armed insurgents.

Pressure mounts on Jonathan
In a video sent to AFP last week, Boko Haram's purported leader, Abubakar Shekau, said he would continue his relentless campaign of violence on anyone who supports democracy or so-called Western values.

Shekau, deemed a global terrorist by the United States, also threatened to widen the insurgency outside the group's northeastern stronghold with attacks in the oil-producing, southern Niger Delta region.

Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer and an Islamist attack in the country's key economic region would pile further pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan, who has faced scathing criticism over his handling of the Boko Haram crisis.

Jonathan on Monday defended his government's record in tackling the militants, telling reporters that "no effort will be spared" to protect civilians and their property.

He renewed his call to Boko Haram to lay down their arms and engage in talks to address their grievances.

 

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