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CBI records Rakesh Maria’s statement in Sheena Bora murder case

CBI is probing if Mumbai Police deliberately ‘went slow’ on accused Peter Mukerjea by ‘refraining’ from arresting him.

Written by Rashmi Rajput | Mumbai |
February 7, 2017 2:27:11 am
rakesh-maria Last year, the CBI had recorded the statement of three senior IPS officers including Rakesh Maria in the case.

TWO DAYS after his retirement, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the second time in the Sheena Bora murder case. According to agency sources, Maria’s statement was recorded at the CBI’s headquarters in New Delhi. This is the second time that Maria’s statement is being recorded by the central agency in the case. Last year, the CBI had recorded the statement of three senior IPS officers including Maria. The other two officers were Deven Bharti, Joint Commissioner, law and order, Mumbai Police and Deputy Police Commissioner, Satyanarayan Chaudhary. Calls and messages to Maria did not elicit a response. According to sources, the CBI is now focusing on the Mumbai Police’s role and probing if the local police deliberately ‘went slow’ on prime accused Peter Mukerjea by ‘refraining’ from arresting him. The agency had called Maria for the second time to quiz him specifically on the issue of jurisdiction, ‘leads’ and suspected proximity to Mukerjea.

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“Last year, he was summoned and questioned in Delhi to avoid media glare. His statement was recorded. However, during the investigation we stumbled upon certain facts and wanted to quiz him again, therefore he was summoned in January this year and his statement was recorded on February 2,” said an official privy to the development. Sources claim that the summons was sent to Maria’s office in South Mumbai on the day of his retirement. Maria retired as the DG, State Homeguards, on January 31.

These sources said that it is rather ‘strange’ for a Mumbai Police Chief not to transfer a case that has been allegedly committed outside Mumbai limits and to probe it by constituting a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and asked why, despite being the Mumbai Police Commissioner, Maria visited the Khar police station taking ‘keen interest’ in the case.

“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 body was disposed of in the jungles of Raigad. Since the body remains were exhumed from Gogade Khurd village in Raigad, the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) allows the case to be transferred to the Raigad Police. Maria was quizzed as to why they didn’t feel the need to transfer the case to the Raigad police,” said an official.

“He was the Mumbai Police chief when the case was cracked by the Khar police and had even constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the case. He guided the team on the course of the probe and had also written to many agencies to join the probe. We are, however, probing if this SIT was ‘set up’ by Maria specifically at the Khar police station to scuttle the probe against Peter. While Maria has asserted that he probed the case only for 12 days, after which he was transferred, the period was enough to ascertain that Mukerjea needs to be taken into custody to probe his involvement in the case. It was not the Mumbai Police but the CBI that arrested Mukerjea,” said an official.

Days before his retirement, Maria had told The Indian Express that if he wanted to shield Mukerjea, he wouldn’t have cracked the case in the first place. The former decorated officer of the Mumbai Police also said that he did not regret cracking the case.

“The commissioner of Police is not a showpiece. The job mandates to maintain the law and order of the city, prevent, detect and investigate crime. If I wanted to shield Peter, I wouldn’t have cracked the case in the first place. I don’t regret detecting the case. I have met Peter only four times during the probe and if I have to rewind my life I would still go the Khar police station and interrogate Peter.

“On September 7, a day before I was promoted to DG, State Homeguards, I had interrogated Peter and found discrepancies in his statement. I had discussed those with my team and had given Peter 24 hours to come clean but before I could interrogate him again on September 8, my orders had come. While transfer and promotions are the prerogative of the Government, I felt bad that they imputed motives on me,” Maria had told The Indian Express.

Indrani, wife of Peter Mukerjea, was arrested on August 25, 2015 by the Mumbai police, who went on to arrest her driver Shyam Rai and her ex husband Sanjeev Khanna for killing her daughter Sheena Bora in April 2012. In September of that year, the case was subsequently transferred to the CBI, and all the accused are currently in judicial custody.

In its chargesheet, the CBI has associated multiple motives including financial dispute, and ‘honour’ killing of Indrani as Peter opposed Sheena’s relationship with Rahul, Peter’s first child from his previous marriage. Rahul and Sheena had got engaged in December 2011 against the will of Peter and Indrani.

The central agency so far has filed three chargesheets in the case. Rai has turned an approver. The trial is likely to commence on February 23.
rashmi.rajput@expressindia.com

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