Peter in custody. File

Peter in custody. File

Sheena Bora murder: Ex-Mumbai top cop sets the cat among pigeons

Mumbai former police chief takes his time to Let me Say It Now

Agency Report | Mumbai | 18 February, 2020 | 11:30 PM

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria has made certain sensational revelations about the infamous Sheena Bora murder case in his new book “Let Me Say It Now” that has triggered off potential political storm.

Among the cloak-and-dagger style disclosures are Maria’s SMS exchange with the former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the circumstances leading to his abrupt “shunting” from the case probe and the role of prominent individuals.

The 63-year-old high profile IPS officer — who earlier handled the March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes — had personally investigated the Sheena Bora murder case, but mid-way during the probe was transferred via a SMS message from then Additional Chief Secretary (Home) K.P. Bakshi.

In a SMS to Fadnavis Maria expressed his displeasure at how he and his team which probed the case for only 12 days before he was promoted and transferred at a time when (media baron) “Peter Mukerjea’s role and financial transactions were being parallel probed in the case” although it took the CBI 90 days to bring out (Peter Mukerjea’s) role and then arrest him, which he said was “unfair and unjust to me and the Mumbai Police team which detected this buried case”.

He discusses his two top colleagues, Deven Bharti, now the Additional DGP, ATS and Ahmed Javed, now the Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

While Maria was interrogating Mukerjea in Khar Police Station on the disappearance of Sheena Bora, the latter informed him that he had told ‘Deven’ – the then Joint Commissioner of Police (L&O), stunning the entire investigating team.

Maria himself was shaken at Mukerjea’s revelation and how he was on first-name basis with the Jt. CoP Deven Bharti, but nobody said anything, though he (Maria) admits to spending a sleepless night attempting to fathom its complete ramifications, etc.

When Maria contemplated confronting Bharti on the issue, the very next morning (September 8, 2015), Maria was transferred.

Besides, Javed knew the Mukerjea couple (Peter and since recently his ex-wife Indrani) socially and were invitees to his Eid party. “Did the CM and the (then) Additional CS (K. P. Bakshi) know about this before the new CoP (Javed) took charge,” Maria now wonders.

Maria refers to an enquiry into the role of Raigad district Police as Sheena Bora’s remains were found in the Gagode forests, lapses whether there was any attempt to destroy evidence, and asks a pointed question: “What happened to that enquiry?”

Referring to a TV interview in which Fadnavis suggested that (Maria) was misleading by giving a clean chit to Peter Mukerjea, Maria defended himself by saying he had never told him (ex-CM) that Peter Mukerjea was not under his scanner.

He spoke to Fadnavis only once to inform that Mukerjea was not in India at the time of the crime but his involvement was being probed, and at another time the CM informed him that Maria was promoted to make Javed as the CoP and ultimately to facilitate his appointment as an envoy.

Maria sought Bakshi’s permission to clear the scandalous and defamatory aspersions’ case on his role, but the latter never replied and three months later Maria retired on January 31, 2017.

Now, he wonders whether there was a deliberate attempt to malign the probe by spreading the falsehood that he (Maria) knew the Mukerjeas socially and though he had categorically denied it, suspicion hung in the atmosphere.

He decided to finally write his memoirs to ensure that his name did not go down in history as a police commissioner, who allegedly misled the CM in order to shield Peter Mukerjea.

To the media queries after retirement whether he regretted the handling of the Sheena Bora case, Maria said that the Police Commissioner’s post is not a showpiece, he is not meant for cutting ribbons, inaugurations and Page 3 events, his job profile included preventions, detection and investigation of serious crimes besides maintenance of law and order.