The Sheena Bora murder case has left two of Mumbai’s finest police officers at loggerheads, with each accusing the other of leaking damaging information to the press about the other.
The Sheena Bora murder case was instrumental in the senior’s ignominious exit from a high-profile post he has craved for all his life. File pic
Ironically, the two — separated by around a decade in age but often just one rung on the IPS ladder — have spent several illustrious years working together on many a high-profile case, including at the Mumbai crime branch. While the senior is in the twilight of his career, the junior has a few years left in service.
While the rift has been simmering below the surface for a while -- the junior has for some years been telling those close to him that while he does the legwork in big cases, the senior walks away with the credit -- the Sheena Bora murder case has brought the bitterness out in the open.
The case was instrumental in the senior’s ignominious exit from a high-profile post he has craved for all his life. The junior finds himself permanently linked to the case after the Central Bureau of Investigation questioned him recently about his interactions with the accused.
The ties have deteriorated to such an extent that the junior has been alleging that the senior leaked details of his CBI questioning to the media, while the senior believes the junior planted a story about a former police officer who links him to the accused, Peter Mukerjea.
The media, too, is divided, with groups siding with the two. Journalists on the crime beat mid-day spoke to admitted that the two have indeed been the sources of several stories since the Sheena Bora case broke. Some senior journalists have even tried to bring the two together, but in vain.
The senior officer also suspects that the junior, who has friends across IPS factions, lobbied to get him transferred. The junior, on the other hand, suspects the senior leaked a recent story that put him in the spotlight, and, a spot of bother.
“Nobody knows how and why they started leaking stories against each other,” said a senior crime journalist who has covered the beat for two decades. “But it definitely started with the Sheena Bora case. Now, one of them is talking about irregularities in the probe and that money has changed hands. If this continues, it will put a tremendous strain on the police force.”
Journalists who meet the two for private chats almost every evening — this is also when the stories are allegedly leaked — said the two have now started leaking damaging information about other officers from each other’s core teams.
“A police inspector close to one of them is so disturbed that he has been telling journalists he is contemplating voluntary retirement. He is very worried that he could be implicated in some case or the other in the future,” said the journalist.
Among the high-profile cases the two investigated are three from the same year – a sensational murder case that rocked Mumbai, one of the worst terror attacks on the city, and the busting of sleeper cells of a home-bred terror outfit.
It was the third that caused the first ripples of displeasure. The junior believed he worked round the clock and cracked the case. He wanted to announce the details of the case in a grand media conference. But the senior IPS officer ‘broke’ the story to a select few in one of his famous ‘evening durbars’. The junior — who realised his 15 minutes were stolen only when he saw the papers the next morning — was left seething.
More recently, the senior was miffed about a report in a Hindi daily that said he was not paying attention to the Sheena Bora murder probe. When he called the reporter, he was said to be more interested in finding the source than the damaging story itself. When he was transferred mid-probe, he was convinced it was his ambitious junior with a good few years left in service who was working against him.
That was the beginning of the tit-for-tat leaks, and they show no signs of stopping any time soon.