Although Sanjeev Khanna, Indrani Mukerjea's former husband and key suspect in Mukerjea's daughter, Sheena Bora's murder, confessed to his complicity in the crime on Friday night in a joint interrogation involving him, Mukerjea and her driver, Shyam Rai, he is believed to have hinted at his involvement to a close friend several years ago.
Kolkata-based realty developer and jute mill owner Ajay Rawla, who Khanna has known for long, said that his friend had rushed to Mumbai in 2012 to meet his daughter Vidhie following a call from his former wife, and Vidhie's mother Mukerjea. On his return to Kolkata, Rawla says, he remembers Khanna as crestfallen.
Rawla said Khanna returned to Kolkata before April 26, 2012, his birthday. "I had thought he'd be happy, and would have spent his birthday with his daughter but he returned dejected," Rawla said in a telephonic interview to SUNDAY mid-day.
"She (Indrani) has ditched me for a second time. I don't know if I will recover from this one," Khanna had told Rawla. "I could not guess what particular incident he was referring to. I thought he was upset because of Indrani.
Bowali Rajbari, a heritage home on the outskirts of Kolkata, that Khanna helped Rawla run
I did not push him to reveal more," said Rawla. Ever since his divorce from Mukerjea in 2002, Rawla said Khanna was often spotted in drunken brawls at the Calcutta Cricket and Football Club (CCFC), a swish members-only institution where the two met often.
Post April 26, 2012, "he further went into a shell". Khanna stayed away from Kolkata's races, once his favourite haunt, although he would occasionally visit CCFC.
"I am convinced that Indrani roped him into it (the crime). And Sanju (Khanna's nickname) walked into a booby trap. I have some questions to ask him when I see him," said Rawla.
The Kolkata police had arrested Khanna from Rawla's Alipore residence on August 26 after they didn't find him at his Chapel Road home. He was arrested a day after Mukerjea, wife of former Star CEO Peter Mukerjea, was arrested by the Mumbai police.
Khanna had lent his support to Rawla on February 12, 2010, when Rawla's son, Rouvanjit, hanged himself at home after he was caned for misbehaving at Kolkata's posh school La Martiniere for Boys, an incident that created ripples in Kolkata's social circles.
Khanna, a small-time consultant, garnered support from like-minded parents in the city who were demanding an end to corporal punishment. But in September 2012, a fast track court dropped all charges against the school's principal, Sunirmal Chakravarthi, and three teachers who had been named in the incident.
Later, Khanna helped Rawla run a heritage home, Bowali Rajbari, 30 km from Kolkata. In its early days, he had also helped set up 1658, a fine dining restaurant in Kolkata's Chowringhee office complex but the property eventually went to the control of Deepak Khullar, owner of Kolkata's Amber restaurant.
Khanna's involvement in Bora's murder has changed everything. Last week, senior members of CCFC took the decision to revoke his membership.