The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which recently questioned three senior Maharashtra Police officers in the Sheena Bora murder case, quizzed the cops on their ‘leads’, jurisdiction and suspected proximity with accused Peter Mukerjea, sources have revealed.
Earlier this month, three police officers – Director General of Police, Home Guards, Maharashtra, Rakesh Maria, Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and order), Mumbai Police, Deven Bharti, and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mumbai Police, Satyanarayan Chaudhary, were examined by the central agency in the case.
Sources claim they were questioned in Delhi after the examination of Sohail Buddha, who was employed with the broadcast media group that Peter Mukerjea had been associated with.
When Mukerjea was CEO, Buddha took voluntary retirement as an assistant police inspector and joined the private firm in charge of their security.
“The Mumbai Police’s case states that Sheena was ‘kidnapped’ from outside National College in Bandra, murdered in one of the by-lanes of Pali Hill Road (in Bandra) and her remains disposed of in the jungles of Raigad. Since the body was exhumed from Gogade Khurd village in Raigad, the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) allow the case to be transferred to the Raigad Police.
The three officials were quizzed as to why they didn’t feel the need to transfer the case,” a senior officer who did not wish to be named told The Indian Express.
“Generally in such cases, a zero FIR is registered and the case transferred to the police station under whose jurisdiction the offence is alleged to have been committed. The officers were asked if they had any interest in registering the case in Mumbai,” the official said.
The officers were also questioned on whether they were acquainted with Peter in any manner before the case. Sources said this line of questioning was important to ascertain if the Mumbai Police deliberately ‘went slow in the case’ and was trying to ‘shield Peter’.
Last week, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis sparked off a row after he told the press that he was ‘given an impression by those at the helm’ of the investigation (in the Mumbai Police) that Peter had no role in the murder of his step-daughter.
“Peter and Indrani (Peter’s wife and co-accused in the case) would organise a lot of get-togethers, to which many policemen would also be invited. The three officers were asked if they had been to any such party,” another official said.
“Maria has maintained that he never met Peter before the case and first interacted with him on September 7 last year, when he questioned him on the murder. A day later, he was promoted and transferred.”
“Bharti had already told investigators that he knew the couple and the two had got in touch with him to get the mobile tower location of Sheena, a few days after she disappeared in April 2012. He had got the Anti Extortion Cell (AEC) to trace her tower location and informed the couple about it,” the official added.
“Bharti is already a witness in our case. His statement is crucial in nailing Peter’s complicity and debunking the accused couple’s ‘Sheena-in-US’ theory,” the official added.
The officers were also quizzed on the rapport they shared with each other, and about Buddha, sources said.
“The Mumbai Police claims that it chanced upon the case after the arrest of Indrani’s former driver Shyamvar Rai in a different case concerning possession of firearms. However, there were news reports claiming that Buddha gave the lead of the case to a senior police officer, and the Khar police acted upon it,” the official said.
“The three officers were quizzed on the said report and also on their acquaintance with Buddha. Two of them have claimed that they learnt about Buddha being a former employee of Peter through the news report,” the official added.