Mumbai: With confusion still prevailing over the "supervisory" role assigned to former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria in the Sheena Bora murder case, a top state government official today said things would soon be made clear in this regard.
Rakesh Maria (Insert) Sheena Bora
"We will reveal the exact status of the Sheena Bora murder case at the right time," the top home department official said on condition of anonymity. Maria was transferred from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner on September 8 and promoted as the DG (Home Guards).
Ahmad Javed, a DG-rank officer, was brought in his place, fuelling speculation that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was unhappy over Maria's handling of the murder case. But as Maria's transfer generated heat in the media and within political circles, Maharashtra government made a U-turn and announced the same evening that he would continue to supervise the murder probe.
However, the actual role of Maria is yet to be spelt out in the case, addressing the legal and procedural issues involved. The official also said that Additional Chief Secretary (Home), KP Bakshi, had briefed Fadnavis on the issue and the latter had spoken to Maria and also briefly with Javed. "At the right time, the home department will clarify the matters regarding the probe," the official said.
As to reports that Fadnavis was also upset over Maria's handling of some other recent cases like the Malwani hooch tragedy, which claimed over 100 lives, and his controversial meeting with former IPL chief Lalit Modi in London in July, 2014, the official said if that had been the case, the chief minister could have transferred him long back.
"If the CM was unhappy, he could have transferred Maria much earlier and not waited for the Sheena Bora case to happen. He could have taken action over the Lalit Modi incident too," the official said. Meanwhile, a senior police officer declined to comment when asked about reports that a former SP in Raigad district had prevailed upon the then investigating officer to not file an FIR or ADR following the discovery of charred human remains in the forests in Pen taluka.
"Only my seniors can apprise you of the issue and I am in no way concerned to be briefing you about the case", said the current Raigad SP, Suvez Haq. Indrani Mukerjea, wife of media baron Peter Mukerjea, was arrested by Khar Police on August 25 over her alleged role in the murder of Sheena Bora, her daughter from an earlier marriage, in 2012. Sheena, 24, was allegedly kidnapped from outside National College in the western suburbs.
She had come to Mumbai from Assam in 1990s along with Indrani and completed a BA in Economics from St Xavier's College. According to police, in 2011, Sheena got a job with Reliance Mumbai Metro, but suddenly stopped coming to duty. The same year, her facebook account was deactivated.
Police had unearthed a decomposed body three years ago after villagers at Gagode in Pen tehsil complained of a foul stench in the area. Meanwhile, former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan came down heavily on the BJP-led government over the "ambiguity" as regards Maria's role in the Sheena Bora murder probe.
"No one knows who is handling the high-profile murder case... Frequent change in the leadership does not speak well about the leadership of the state," Chavan said. "Police cannot make the excuse that the entire force is busy maintaining security for Ganesh utsav.
Rather, it (the government) should come clean on the probe, especially when an angle of money laundering has surfaced," added Chavan. According to police, Sheena was murdered, allegedly by her mother Indrani, on April 24, 2012, and the body was burnt and disposed of in the forest in Raigad district the next day.
Apart from Indrani, her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and driver Shyamver Rai were arrested in the case and are now in judicial custody after being interrogated for 14 days by police. Maria, as the chief of Mumbai police, had often himself led the interrogations at Khar police station before he was abruptly shunted from the post earlier this month.