Ms Mukerjea, 43, was brought to a Mumbai court today in her second public sighting in 24 hours (yesterday, she was driven by the police to the forest fringing Mumbai where, in 2012, she allegedly disposed of the body of Sheena Bora, her 24-year-old daughter). In court this afternoon, her younger daughter, Vidhie, from another marriage, broke down. Ms Mukerjea remained stoic. At the end of the hearing, Vidhie and Ms Mukerjea hugged in the presence of reporters, before the former media executive was returned till Saturday on court orders to the police station where she is being interrogated and housed.
When Ms Bora died, she was living with and engaged to Rahul Mukerjea, her step-brother, Peter Mukerjea's son from an earlier marriage. As an outlier, that too has been overshot.
Ms Mukerjea herself was accused of poisoning her son, Mekhail, in an attempt to murder him on the same day that Ms Bora was strangled in a hired car in a narrow lane off Mumbai's famous Linking Road. The police say that Ms Mukerjea was assisted by her second husband and Vidhie's father, Sanjeev Khanna, and her driver Shyam Rai in the killing. That night, they allegedly kept the car with Ms Bora's corpse in the sprawling Mukerjea residence, then drove to a forest the next day where the body was set on fire and discarded.
Mekhail Bora, when brought face-to-face with his mother by the police, has said that he had been summoned in April 2012 to meet his sister who by then had spent several years living in Mumbai. He says he was drugged at the hotel where Sanjeev Khanna had also checked in, but managed to escape the complex. The police has accepted that claim; it says it is separately looking at whether Ms Mukerjea tried to hire a hitman to assassinate her son and, for back-up, negotiated with a Mumbai psychiatrist to declare Mr Bora mentally unstable to ensure he would not be taken seriously if he challenged his mother's declaration that Ms Bora was no longer around because she had relocated suddenly to Los Angeles.
The fortune - the estimates and sources of which vary in different accounts - was the product of a somewhat unseemly exit by the Mukerjeas in 2009 from the INX broadcasting group they had founded two years earlier. The police says it's checking whether proxy accounts and firms were created with amenable friends and relatives to receive the money; Ms Mukerjea has, investigators say, acknowledged a "financial dispute" with Ms Bora.
Peter Mukerjea was in the UK when Ms Bora was killed. He has been interrogated by the police; in media interviews, he has said he chose to ignore Ms Bora and others when they said his wife was lying about her relationship with her siblings. He has also said that like his wife, he made it clear that he did not approve of Ms Bora's long-running romance with his son. But police sources say that the initial focus on Ms Bora's relationship as the likely cause for her murder has receded.
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