Plot thickens

 MPost |  2015-08-28 21:59:37.0  |  New Delhi

The mystery of Sheena Bora’s murder in 2012 and the alleged role of her mother Indrani <g data-gr-id="46">Mukherjea</g> has captured the media’s imagination. Suffice to say, the details emerging out of the investigation conducted by the Mumbai police are hazy at best. Before one jumps to conclusions, which many unfortunately in social media have done, it is imperative to state what the larger audience knows thus far. On Wednesday, the Sheena Bora murder case took a new twist. Indrani <g data-gr-id="47">Mukherjea</g>, chief executive officer of INX Media, confessed to the police that the victim was her daughter from an earlier relationship and not sister, as stated earlier. Speaking to the media, Mumbai Police 
Commissioner Rakesh Maria said that Indrani, wife of Peter Mukherjea, former head of Star India, made the confession after her arrest the day before. Her reported confession clearly corroborates the claims by Indrani’s son and Sheena’s brother, Mikhail Bora, who now lives in Guwahati. Although the police remain tight-lipped about the motive behind the crime, Mikhail claimed that he knew the “exact reason” for Sheena’s murder, and he would reveal it to the police at an appropriate time. In a further twist to the case, Indrani’s ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna was arrested in Kolkata on Wednesday for his alleged complicity in the murder. Indrani’s alleged role in the entire affair came to light when her driver was arrested a week back, following the seizure of an illegal pistol from him. During interrogation, he confessed that he, along with his employer and Khanna, had strangulated Sheena inside a car in Mumbai. Subsequently, according to the driver, all three accomplices burnt the body with petrol before dumping it in Raigad. However, the police station, where the body has been stored, did not preserve any DNA sample. Such a lacuna may, unfortunately, prove to be a hurdle in proving that the body was indeed Sheena’s in the first place.

Before everyone jumps on the bandwagon of finding Indrani guilty of murdering her daughter, one thing should be made amply clear. <g data-gr-id="45">Basic</g> criminal law states that till the accused confesses before a magistrate, it is not admissible in a court of law. Large sections of the media, unfortunately, could not desist from reporting that she has confessed. It is unfortunate that many in the media have already found Indrani guilty, even though the due process of law has not completed its course. These statements are not an attempt to sympathise with the accused in this case. Instead of dealing with certainties, one should present the various theories brought forth over Indrani’s possible motives. According to a weekly magazine, Indrani may have gone through with the murder over financial reasons. In 2007, Indrani and Peter had founded what is now known today as 9X Media. 

After an audit by a Singapore-based investor, it was reportedly found that Peter and Indrani had siphoned off large sums of money from the company. The sum, according to the report, was withdrawn in the name of various family members, including Sheena. However,  Sheena, allegedly, refused to return the sum under her name and this possibly led to the murder.  The second theory being bandied about is what Peter himself told a news channel, “Indrani was unhappy, so was I, about Sheena’s affair with my son (from his previous marriage). The relationship was not encouraged by Indrani.”
It is interesting to note that the entire sequence of events, post the revelations, reads like a plot line straight out of a Madhur Bhandarkar movie. For the uninitiated, Bhandarkar’s movies are famous for depicting all the alleged muck and sleaze involved in the lives of social elites. The narrative emerging out of this case revolves around the ‘celebrity’ factor and how the rich and famous have dirty secrets they all wish to hide. How we all love to see the mighty fall? Instead, according to certain political commentators, not many in the media have picked up on the possibility of honour killing.  

The fact that Indrani could have killed her daughter for having an affair with her stepson is something that has not registered with the public. Suffice to say, there is an element of class bias involved. Most cases of honour killings reported in the Indian media revolve either around some village baddie in the hinterland of Haryana or some low or middle-income household in Delhi or Chandigarh and never the social elite of Mumbai. If this case were to occur in a poor, rural household, no one would care.

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