By Shrutika Garg, Jamnalal Bajaj School of Legal Studies, Banasthali Vidyapith.
Also known as the mother of all murder mysteries, the infamous Sheena Bora murder case came in the media’s glare and has eventually become one of the most mysterious cases in Indian history. Sheena’s alleged mother Indrani Mukherji, an Indian HR consultant and media executive, her ex- husband Sanjeev Khanna and her driver Shyam Rai have been questioned for her whereabouts. The twists and turns involved in this case are nothing short of the storyline in a daily soap opera.
The Characters of the Story
Sheena Bora was born from Indrani Mukherji and Sidhharth Das in 1987 in Shillong, Meghalaya. However, the official records name Mr. Upendra Kumar Bora and Mrs. Durga Rani Bora of Guwahati as her parents, the truth being that they are actually her grandparents. She has a younger brother, Mikhail Bora.
After Indrani and Sidharth got separated, she left her children under the care of her parents and went to Kolkata where she studied computers. She later on married Sanjeev Khanna and had a daughter from the marriage. In 2002, they got divorced and Indrani married Peter Mukkherji. The daughter from Sanjeev was legally adopted by her and Peter.
Sheena Bora, after learning about her mother, moved to Mumbai in 2006 where she was introduced by Indrani as her sister. She was sent to St. Xavier’s College and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree (2006-2009). In 2009, she joined Reliance Infrastructure as a management trainee. In June 2011 Sheena joined Mumbai Metro One as an assistant manager.
During her initial days in Mumbai, Sheena was introduced to Rahul Mukerjea, Peter Mukerjea’s son from an earlier marriage. The duo had a romantic relationship that reportedly lead to Rahul cohabiting with her from 2009 to 2012. Allegedly, Indrani did not approve of the relationship, which, in the light of what she is alleged to have kept as a secret, is considered a social & religious taboo in India.
The Murder in the bye-lanes of Bandra
On 24th April, 2012, Sanjeev Khanna came to Mumbai and stayed in Hotel Hill top at Worli. Indrani allegedly had rented an Opel Corsa for the abduction and killing and to dispose of the body. Indrani had earlier asked Sheena to meet her on the evening of 24 April 2012. Although Sheena was reluctant, she agreed. On the evening of 24 April 2012, (about 1800 hours), Indrani picked up her ex-husband from his hotel in Worli. Sheena was dropped off about 1900 hours by Rahul Mukerjea near National College on Linking Road in Bandra, where she was met by Indrani, Sanjeev and driver Shyamvar Rai. The car was being driven by Rai with Indrani sitting next to him. Sheena sat in the rear seat with Khanna.
Sheena was then taken to one of the by-lanes in Bandra where Khanna allegedly strangled her. As per the Police officials, Sheena’s body was taken to Indrani’s house in Worli where it was put in a bag and stuffed in the boot of the car. Khanna later left for his hotel while Indrani stayed home and Rai slept inside the car with the body in the boot. The same night (the early morning of 25 April 2012), the three accused drove to the village of Gagode in Pen tehsil, Raigad. They allegedly wanted to avoid police checks on the highway and hence, to make it appear as if Sheena was sleeping, propped the body between Indrani and Khanna on the rear seat, rather than putting it in the boot. At 0400 on 25 April 2012, the accused dragged the body out of the car to an isolated spot in the forest, stuffed it in the bag, poured petrol over the bag and set it ablaze. After the body was completely burnt, the accused returned to Mumbai. Khanna later that day left Mumbai.
On 23 May 2012, local police found a decomposed body at the crime spot after villagers complained of a foul odor. Police were unable to identify the body and sent the skeletal remains to JJ Hospital in Mumbai. The police also did not register a First Information Report or initiate an investigation. Sheena Bora’s disappearance and murder and the disposal of her body went unreported for 40 months until August, 2015, and the skeletal remains found in Pen tehsil, Raigad were not linked with Sheena Bora.
The case came to light only when Indrani’s Driver Shyam Rai was arrested in an unrelated case of possession of illegal arms, where during the interrogation, he confessed that Indrani Mukherji had planned to murder Sheena Bora. Consequently, Indrani was kept under surveillance for four months, after which she was arrested on 25th August 2015 and Sanjeev Khanna on 26th August thereafter.
Indrani was charged under sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and 34 (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and took to the Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate court, which remanded her in police custody. Sanjeev Khanna was charged under sections 364 (kidnapping), 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and 120-B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. Sanjeev allegedly confessed to the offences charged.
According to speculations, this case seems to be an example of an Elite society Honour Killing. The truth behind these allegations is however, yet to be ascertained.
The role of Media
Media trial has had a huge impact on the dynamics of this case. Minute details were broadcasted on all the channels. Media could reach the sites before the police. However, the media houses, with their never ending thirst for trps, have been violating the privacy rights of the victim and the accused. Media is considered as the fourth pillar of our democracy and plays an important role in informing people about the crime and the criminals. It is truly pointed out that “As the media goes wild with speculation, the only code of conduct appears to be that all is fair in love, war and breaking news.”