WADOO!!NEWS: Sheena Bora murder: Cops quiz Peter for 12 hrs, compare answers with wife’s
MUMBAI: The Khar police questioned former Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea for nearly 12 hours in the Sheena Bora murder case on Wednesday. He will be called again on Thursday. Peter is the husband of Indrani Mukerjea, with whom he co-founded INX Media. Indrani was arrested on August 25 for the alleged murder of her daughter Sheena.
Peter, accompanied by his elder brother Gautam Mukerjea, arrived at Khar police station at 10.30am and left at 10.45pm. While one police team questioned him, another carried out a search at his flat in Worli and took away some documents and a laptop. He was given a break in the afternoon.
Police officials close to the investigation said Peter was initially given a written questionnaire containing 25 questions. Gautam was asked to sit in the next room while Peter answered these questions. After he had finished, he was questioned orally. “We will record his statement again on Thursday to find out if there are any discrepancies,” a police officer said.
The same set of questions given to Peter was also given to Indrani, who was brought in from the Bandra police lock-up and made to sit in an adjoining room. Police officers were busy comparing Peter and Indrani’s replies late Wednesday evening.
Among the posers in the written questionnaire were those related to Peter’s financial transactions, especially his investments, his share in various companies, and how much money he had given Indrani, son Rahul, step-daughter Sheena, and younger step-daughter Vidhie (Indrani’s daughter from her previous marriage, whom Peter adopted). He was also about his exit from INX.
Other questions were more familial in nature, police officials said. What was his reaction when Rahul announced his engagement to Sheena? Did he permit Rahul to go ahead? Did he know Indrani was in constant touch with her ex-husband Khanna? Who did he think killed Sheena and what could be the motive? And why did he not suspect foul play in Sheena’s disappearance?Peter was also asked if he was aware that Indrani was Sheena’s mother and not her sister. He is believed to have replied that his son Rahul and Sheena had told him that she was the daughter, but he had believed his wife after she had refuted this saying she had brought up Sheena like a parent. The police team sought to know if he was aware that his marriage with Indrani was her third and whether Indrani had told him about her ex-partner Siddhartha Das and the two children – Sheena and Mikhail – she had from him.
Some questions were about the days immediately after Sheena’s disappearance. Peter had earlier told police that he was holidaying in UK on April 24, 2012, the day Sheena went missing. But did he inquire about her when he returned from the UK, he was reportedly asked When did his son Rahul tell him there was something wrong with Indrani’s story that Sheena had settled in the US? What was his reaction when Rahul told him he suspected foul play? Why he did not question Indrani or do a check on Sheena’s whereabouts? Why did he easily believe Indrani? “We asked him all this and more,” police officials said.
The questioning of Peter Mukherjea marks a new phase in an investigation that has riveted the attention of large sections of India middle and ‘upper’ classes, but has also led to criticism of the police for leaking information and of the media for lapping it up without question. Mahesh Jethmalani, a prominent advocate whom Peter visited a few days ago for advice, said, “I don’t believe in trial by media like the police does.” TV channels have been accused of airing unsubstantiated allegations and fanciful theories in their quest for ratings, which in turn is seen to have pushed newspapers to play up the story without providing perspective.
Police are also likely to record Vidhie’s statement soon.
There were media reports on Wednesday that police had brought Indrani and Sanjeev Khanna face to face, but investigators denied this, saying that will be done if there are contradictions in statements given by them.
Jethmalani’s junior, Gunjan Mangla, met Indrani for about 20 minutes in the police station in the presence of five cops on Wednesday. People close to Indrani said such a meeting in the presence of policemen may not allow a free discussion between lawyer and client.
Meanwhile, police suspect that the car in which Sheena’s body was taken to Raigad was hired by Peter.
Police said Peter had called up the owner of AM Cars, a rental service in Worli, and asked him to provide a car without a driver to his wife Indrani as some guest had come from Kolkata. For the owner, who is an old acquaintance of Peter and a fellow member of the Willingdon Club, the request had not seemed unusual at that time.
Police are also getting details of Sheena’s bank statements. “We want to verify the transactions done before and after she was killed on April 24, 2012,” a police officer told TOI.