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Divorce the latest chapter in Indrani Mukerjea’s roller-coaster life

Accused of murdering her daughter,the former media bigwig has now served her husband Peter Mukerjea a divorce notice.

mumbai Updated: Apr 27, 2018 16:47 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Indrani Mukerjea,Sheena Bora murder case
A file photo of Indrani Mukerjea and her husband Peter Mukerjea who married in 2002.(PTI Photo)

Former media executive Indrani Mukerjea, 46, accused of murdering her daughter Sheena Bora, has made headlines again, this time for filing a divorce notice against her husband, former media baron Peter Mukerjea.

There have been talks of divorce for a while now. In 2016, Peter’s lawyer told the media that his client was keen to divorce his wife.

In January 2017, Indrani had sought the court’s permission to file for divorce. At the time, this was considered part of the duo’s legal strategy. This is the first time, though, that there’s actual evidence of a divorce notice being sent.

So, who is Indrani?

*Indrani is the daughter of a well-known businessman in Guwahati.

* Peter Mukerjea, whom she married in 2002, is her third husband.

* She was earlier married to Sanjeev Khanna and before that to Siddharth Das, who is from Tripura.

* She has three children in all — Das is said to be Sheena’s and Mikhail’s biological father, and Khanna is believed to be Vidhie’s father.

*She passed off Sheena and Mikhail as her siblings for more than a decade.

*She has been charged with murdering her daughter Sheena and destroying the body.

*Her son Mikhail also accused her of trying to poison him during a visit to Mumbai, based on which the CBI added a charge of attempt to murder against her.

How they met

The first time Peter Mukerjea met Indrani Bora, in the Library Bar at the Taj President, Cuffe Parade, he left his then girlfriend in another’s care and left with the woman who would, within months, become his wife.

According to advertising guru Suhel Seth, who has known the Mukerjeas for years and was at the Library Bar that night, Peter told him two days later that he was considering marrying Indrani. He said: “I came back to Delhi two days later and called Indrani and asked her where she was. Bachelors can be very wicked. No sooner had I put the phone down, I got a call from Peter saying he was very serious about her and was considering marrying her, so I should perhaps see her in a different light. From that moment on, I did.”

Peter and Indrani married in a low-key ceremony in 2002, attended by Peter’s family and a few of his close friends. The whirlwind wedding marked new chapters in Peter’s and Indrani’s personal and professional lives. Peter bought the flat at Marlow building, Worli, that he had been living in on rent since 2000.

How INX Media was born

INX Services Private Limited, a head-hunting firm that she had shifted from Kolkata to Mumbai in 2001, got a shot in the arm in 2001. It went on to have a tie-up with Reliance Industries Limited, which was among her clients.

Indrani steadily rose through the ranks, and Peter put in his papers at Star TV in 2007. Within months, the couple launched INX Media and INX News. In August 2007, he joined INX Media as chairman and chief strategy officer. In November 2007 Indrani became the CEO of INX Media.

INX Media first launched the Hindi entertainment channel 9X and the Hindi youth music channel 9XM in November 2007. NewsX, an English news channel, was launched in March 2008. In its first year of operations, the INX Group spent almost the entire corpus it had raised from foreign investors. In January 2009, the Mukerjeas sold INX Media NewsX to Indi Media Network.

Following this downturn in fortunes, in 2012, there were rumours that the couple’s relationship had begun to sour.

The cases against them

Sheena Bora murder: On April 24, 2012, former INX Media CEO Indrani Mukerjea, her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna, and driver Shyamwar Rai allegedly murdered her daughter, Sheena Bora, 24. They are said to have sedated and strangled her to death, and later burnt and dumped the corpse in Raigad district.

The murder came to light after Rai turned approver and confessed three years later, in August 2015, after he was arrested in connection with an illegal arms case.

In his confession, recorded in Hindi, Rai said Indrani contacted him through her personal assistant, Kajal Sharma, in the last week of March 2012. He said Indrani spoke to him on Skype and revealed her plans to kill Sheena and Mikhail.

Soon after, the police found skeletal remains in a Raigad jungle. A DNA test confirmed these were Sheena’s. Indrani and Khanna were subsequently arrested. All three are in custody.

The Central Bureau of Investigation also arrested Indrani’s husband Peter Mukerjea in connection with the case. CBI officials said Peter and Indrani were equal participants in the conspiracy hatched to eliminate Sheena. Both were allegedly against her relationship with Peter’s son from his first marriage, Rahul.

INX Media money-laundering: The CBI has named Indrani and Peter in a case of criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption allegedly involving former Union finance minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti. Karti allegedly facilitated the foreign investment promotion board approval to INX Media when the Mukerjeas were the firm’s directors. They have been named in the FIR and are also facing allegations of financial irregularities in transactions made in INX Media.

First Published: Apr 27, 2018 14:53 IST