PETER KNEW

In 2003 itself, parents' letter said all: Relative

By Samyabrata Ray Goswami in Mumbai
  • Published 28.08.15
  •  

Mumbai, Aug. 27: Peter Mukerjea knew Sheena Bora was Indrani's daughter as early as a few months after his marriage, a relative of the Bora family told The Telegraph .

Indrani's father Upendra Kumar Bora and her mother Durga Ranee Bora wrote a letter to their daughter from Guwahati in early 2003, a few months after they learned from newspapers that a STAR India honcho had married her, the relative said. The marriage took place in November 2002.

"They told her they were happy to know about her marriage and that they would be happier if she could financially support them and her two children, Sheena and Mikhail. The family was struggling to make ends meet," the relative said.

Indrani had called back her mother on receiving the letter. "She was very upset. Not because they wanted money - but because the letter had been sent to Peter's office address - and she had told her mother that he now knows about the children. And that she had to do a lot of explaining to him, but that he had been understanding. She promised to come down to Guwahati in some time and help them and she did so," the relative said.

The Bora family relative said Indrani had gone to Guwahati in 2004, accompanied by Peter.

"Sheena had just passed her Class X exams with good marks and Indrani said she had come to celebrate. They stayed in a hotel in the city and Sheena and Mikhail were taken there to be introduced to Peter. The kids were thrilled with the experience - they adored Peter and the lifestyle he and Indrani represented. They wanted to be part of that world," said the relative.

Peter, who had yesterday claimed that he was "completely in a state of disbelief" on learning that Sheena was Indrani's daughter, today told TimesNow that Sheena had told him that she was his step-daughter. "She had told me that 'Jeeju... Indrani is giving you wrong information, and you please believe me... I am not her sister, but I am actually her daughter'. She told me that," Peter said.

However, Peter also told the news channel that Indrani had dismissed Sheena's claim as "utter rubbish" and he had no reasons not to believe his wife.

Peter did not specify when Sheena made the disclosure to him but his words "all these years I believed that she was Indrani's sister" suggest it was some years after his marriage with Indrani in 2002.

Against such a backdrop, the relative's version punches big holes in Peter's story and raises the question whether he was playing along with Indrani while she was introducing Sheena as her sister to Mumbai society.

Two hours before the relative spoke to The Telegraph, Peter had told this newspaper: "I got to know Sheena was Indrani's daughter only in 2011 when she and my son Rahul - they were seeing each other -came to me and claimed that Indrani was Sheena's mother and not her sister. But I chose to believe Indrani who had told me she was her sister."

Peter could not be contacted for his version after the relative spoke about the letter from Indrani's parents.

Mumbai police sources said Peter might be quizzed. Late tonight, he was seen leaving the Police Club, which is close to his Worli home.

Peter told reporters waiting outside: "I came to meet some old friends."

Peter is said to be close to at least one very senior officer associated with the Sheena murder probe. It was not clear whether the former STAR India chief was called over to the club for an informal interview.

Sanjeev Khanna, Indrani's former husband based in Calcutta, was brought to Mumbai today. Police commissioner Rakesh Maria said they had a "fair idea" of the motive for the murder and the picture would be clear after Khanna is questioned in Mumbai. "Only then will we be able to tell you about the motive," Maria told reporters outside Khar police station.

Despite their seemingly bitter parting, Sanjeev and Indrani had been in regular touch and might have shared some "business interests", a police source said later. "Sanjeev and Indrani would often call each other. And Peter Mukerjea was aware of this."

Indrani and Rahul Mukerjea, Peter's son from an earlier marriage and the boyfriend of Sheena, were brought face to face today and questioned.

More than three police officers have said that Rahul had approached Mumbai police twice over Sheena's disappearance. He told the police that he had dropped Sheena in Bandra, from where she had been picked up by Indrani and was never seen again.

When the police eventually contacted Indrani on the matter, she allegedly told them that Sheena had gone to the US for higher studies and that she had broken off with Rahul.

"Early this year, we received solid information from an anonymous source about a possible murder angle. We put Indrani on watch for about four months. After her driver and accomplice was picked up in an arms case on August 21, the case unravelled. But what we have is just the tip of the iceberg and Peter Mukerjea may know more," said a police officer.

Some police officers suggested that the murder may be an honour killing as Indrani was opposed to the relationship between Sheena and Rahul.

But other officers directly involved with the investigation said the murder had "multiple motives but prime among them are money, incest and blackmail".

"Money is the reason why Sheena was murdered, money is the reason why her family went mum even after she disappeared mysteriously from their lives. And money is the reason why some skeletons are tumbling out of the closet while some are still hidden," a source said.

THE FINE PRINT

  • The birth certificate shows it was registered on April 30, 2002, more than 13 years after Sheena was born (February 11, 1989, according to the birth certificate)
  • Delay in registering births is not unusual. Fresh registrations can also be done if the original certificate is lost. In both cases, an affidavit will have to be filed in a court if a year has passed since the birth
  • The sources who provided the copy of Sheena’s birth certificate said it was “reissued” in 2002 on an affidavit filed by Indrani
  • The sources said they did not know whether an original birth certificate existed and, if so, whose names were mentioned as Sheena’s parents
  • 2002 is a milestone year for Indrani. It was in November 2002 that Indrani got married to Peter Mukerjea. The registration of Sheena’s birth, showing Upendra Kumar Bora as her father, was done just less than seven months before the marriage
  • The authenticity of the claim of parentage in the birth certificate has come under severe strain with Upendra Kumar Bora, Indrani’s father who is mentioned as the father of Sheena in the certificate, saying on Thursday from his home balcony: “She is not my daughter. She is my granddaughter”
  • Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria also said on Thursday night in Mumbai: “Sheena is the daughter of the lady accused”
  • A source in Disneyland High School, from where Sheena appeared for her Class X exams and whose name has since been changed to Sudarshan Public School, said: “We don’t have documents that old but what we can tell you is that whether it was to pay her fees or for parent-teacher meetings, it was always Sheena’s grandparents who came.”
  • A source at Faculty Higher Secondary High School at Guwahati’s Amingaon, on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, said: “She joined us in 2004 (after completing her Class X from Disneyland). We have her admission documents and those too mention Upendra Kumar Bora and Durga Ranee Bora as her father and mother. We admit students on the basis of information provided in their school certificates.”

PRANAB BORA

THE MURDER

The following timeline is based on accounts by police sources in Mumbai and Calcutta 

April 24, 2012 

3.30pm: Sanjeev Khanna reaches Mumbai from Calcutta, checks into Hiltop hotel near Worli Sea-Link
4pm-6pm: Multiple calls between Khanna and his former wife Indrani Mukerjea. (Khanna has told the police it was a trip to meet his daughter Vidhie)
6.30pm: Khanna and Indrani pick up/kidnap Sheena Bora in front of an apparel store on Linking Road, near National 
College, Bandra. Indrani’s driver Shamwar Pinturam Rai is at the wheel
6.30pm-7.30pm: Sheena is strangulated. The body is packed into a jute bag and stashed in the boot
7.30pm-11pm: The trio — Indrani, Khanna and Rai — try to drive to the outskirts to dispose of the body but get cold feet on seeing a police naka (check post). They turn back
11pm: Khanna goes to Indrani’s home on Pochkahnwala Road and returns to hotel. (Khanna has told the investigators 
he came to know at 11pm that he would not be allowed to meet Vidhie)

April 25, 2012

5:30am: Indrani picks up Khanna from the hotel in the same vehicle
5.30am-9am: They travel over 80km, reach near Gagode village on Pen-Khopoli Road in Raigad district. The body 
is disposed of. (According to Khanna’s version to police, Indrani wanted him to accompany her to see a plot. But he fell asleep on the way)
9am: (Khanna wakes up, he tells the police). Then they travel to the airport 
Later that day: Khanna and Indrani reach Calcutta by the same flight

Aug. 20, 2015: Khanna apparently calls up a few friends and tells them that only a senior minister at the Centre can bail him out of some trouble that he has got into. The friends do not pay heed, thinking their Sanju, as usual, has had 
a peg too many

Aug. 21: Driver Rai is arrested for possession of a pistol and three rounds of live cartridges
Aug. 22: Rai shows police the spot at Gagode village where Sheena’s body was disposed of
Aug. 25: Indrani is arrested in Mumbai
Aug. 26: Khanna is picked up in Calcutta

Monalisa Chaudhuri