Indrani Mukerjea Re-entered Sheena Bora's Life With Cars, World Trips

Indrani Mukerjea Re-entered Sheena Bora's Life With Cars, World Trips

Sheena Bora, 24, (left), was allegedly murdered by her mother, Indrani Mukerjea (right)

Mumbai:  Sheena Bora, abandoned by her mother to be brought up by her grandparents, used to take photographs to her school in Guwahati and tell classmates, "Look, my mother is so pretty", according to childhood friends.

This week, with thunderous clatter, the story of Ms Bora's life and death tore into the headlines with the Mumbai Police arresting Indrani Mukerjea, a former media executive and wife of Peter Mukerjea, with whom she cofounded the INX media group in 2007.

Lines fed by Ms Mukerjea for years to friends and acquaintances suddenly snapped - Ms Bora was not her sister, as she had presented, but her daughter; the 24-year-old was never seen after April 2012 not because she had moved to the US, but because she had been strangled before her body was set on fire in a forest on the outskirts of Mumbai.

Described by school mates as "happy-go-lucky" with a ready smile, Ms Bora used to say "her parents were separated and that her mother was abroad," according to Arnab Sikdar, who grew up with her and described her as "brilliant at Arts and Music". 

He said Ms Bora's maternal grandparents who raised her and her brother Mikhael were warm and affectionate. Then, "at the beginning of class 9 or 10, things changed," Mr Sikdar told NDTV. "Her place was being renovated, she went on world trips, there were new cars". Mr Sikdar says the school yard concluded that Ms Bora's mother, newly affluent, was back in her life.

Ms Bora then moved to Mumbai to live with the Mukerjeas. She enrolled at the prestigious St Xavier's College and found a boyfriend - Mr Mukerjea's son from a previous marriage, Rahul.

Mr Mukerjea has said this week that his wife, her parents and he all made no secret of their displeasure with the relationship which nevertheless thrived enough for the young couple to move into a flat together after they started working. Mr Mukerjea told NDTV that when he was told that Ms Bora, who he believed was his sister-in-law, had moved to the US, he accepted it as his wife's unsubtle technique at truncating a contentious love story.

Rahul, who tried to get the police to investigate his girlfriend's disappearance, allegedly receive an SMS from her phone in April 2012 telling him their  two-year relationship was over. That was just three days after he had driven Ms Bora to meet with Ms Mukerjea in Bandra. He never saw Ms Bora again.

Mikhael Bora, who lives in Guwahati with his grandparents and was questioned by the police today, has been quick to offer a rap sheet - he says he is certain his mother is guilty, and that he has photographs and phone calls between the Mukerjeas and Ms Bora that can unscramble the case. That is where his disclosures have ended for now, though he charges that the media is overlooking the "real" motive. 

Based on leaks from the police, its investigation has so far circled whether Ms Mukerjea was enraged enough by her daughter's romance to have murdered her, or if there was a link between Ms Bora to the Mukerjeas' sizeable wealth. In 2009, they exited the television group they had founded amid talk in the media industry of large embezzlement and money parked in firms that were fronts.

"I think there was shut-up money being paid all along, and when the shut-up money ran out, people began talking," said Ravina Raj Kohli, former President of Star News. It is true that the police says three months ago, an anonymous phone call alerted them to Ms Bora's death and Ms Mukerjea's alleged complicity.

That nobody known to Ms Bora red-flagged a three-year-long radio silence from her after she was said to have relocated to America has led to speculation about a conspiracy of silence that included relatives. Mikhael Bora says he hounded his mother for news of his sister, only to be told that Ms Bora wanted to have no contact with him. When he persisted, he claims, his mother threatened to cut off the considerable financial support she extended to her parents and him.

Mr Mukerjea has denied any wrongdoing as well. The police says that it was in his garage that Ms Bora's body was kept overnight after she was strangled. The next day, it alleges, the body was driven to Raigad near Mumbai and set on fire.

Ms Mukerjea's driver and her second husband Sanjeev Khanna (father not of the Boras, but Ms Mukerjea's second daughter Vidhie) have also been arrested for murder.

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