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

The Kabuliwalla

Kabab Diplomacy
The Baba Amir Restaurant has the look of a hunter’s retreat about it. As I sat down for a hearty meal of kababs, salad (read: French fries), a plastic cupful of yoghurt and a Kabuli naan, my eye wandered off to a stuffed tiger in that corner, the skin of some animal displayed on a cupboard in the other corner, and a lion and a deer made of light wood next to me. I guess their purpose in these parts of the world is to drive home the message: eat or be eaten. As I plucked the meat off the skewers that came with the menu and ordered another can of Coke, my waiter asked me in Urdu whether I’m a Hindustani or a Pakistani. Now, I knew that Afghans love Indians and hate Pakistanis. But what if I was in the only friendly-to-Pakistan restaurant in Kabul? I took my chances and told him the truth. His stone face gave out no reaction. Meal finished, I went towards the stationary tiger. There was a laminated note in front of it that read: “Mr/Mrs Baba Amir Restaurant has participated in our cooking and be the best cook in Afghanistan by having good and delation Afghani food has been awarded this certificate of excellence.” Signed Ambassador Daan Everts, Nato Senior Civilian Representative. Dodgy English, but I figured that I was on the right side of the ongoing war in Afghanistan if I relished the food too.

Flicking Movies
One wouldn’t have guessed that Afghanis were cineastes of the most demanding kind. Even as we in India are happy to watch new movies like Public Enemies, GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra and Steven Soderbergh’s latest Che in cinemas, shops in Kabul are selling the latest Hollywood fare for as little as 20 Afghanis ($1= 50 Afghanis). The Bollywood fare isn’t bad either with at least two stalls on Kabul’s ‘chic’ Chicken Street selling DVDs of Kaminey. For purely economic reasons I’m tempted to pick up a box set of The Complete All Season Simpsons from Arash Store inside the Safi Mall. But I figured that it would be more ‘authentic’ to pick up a copy of The Man Who Would Be King, starring Sean Connery playing a British soldier who ends up becoming the ruler of Nuristan. Pirated copies, you say? Really?

Howzatt for Afghanistan?
I met a bunch of youngsters outside, of all places, the Afghan Spinneys Supermarket on the ‘posh’ Wazir Akbar Khan Road. One of them was wearing an Indian cricket team t-shirt with ‘Ganguly’ written on the back. Being from the same tribe as the Bengali cricketer, I asked the strapping lad whether he played the game. He and his friends apparently watch the game regularly on TV more than they actually play it (sounds familiar?). One of them even informed me that the Afghan national team’s not doing too badly these days. ‘Er, Afghan cricket team?’ I thought while nodding encouragingly as if I was a pal of Irfan Khan. Turns out that the national team is now No. 14 in the world and has just missed out on qualifying for the 2011 World Cup. “We beat Ireland,” said one of the lads. We exchange numbers and they promise to take me out to a round of Afghani cricket on Friday.

Plane misunderstanding
The problem with bad phone connections is that you don’t <not> hear things, but you mishear them. Because of a slight visa snafu at the Afghan visa office in Delhi, I was not allowed to board the Indian Airlines flight to Kabul as planned. Instead, I was told to catch the next IC flight (which was on the 20th, and thus too late) or jump aboard a ‘Palmair’ flight scheduled to leave that afternoon. I contacted my office, asking the travel agent lady to put me on the ‘Palmair’ flight. An hour later – half of which was spent in the Afghan embassy getting my visa ‘fixed’ by an official wearing a swine flu mask – I was provided a ‘Palmair’ number. I purchased my ticket from the airline’s office at the airport. It was only while I was standing in the immigration line with the boarding pass in my hand that I saw that it was not ‘Palmair’ (a low-cost British-owned airline) I was flying, but ‘Pamir Airways’. A day later – and after a strenuous landing in a dust-blinded Bagram Airport that would have tipped the plane over if an overweight warlord was sitting on any seat on the left) -- that I felt secure after passing the main office of Pamir Airways in Kabul.

 

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