After the Sheena Bora murder case was handed over to the CBI in 2015, when journalists asked the then Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria to give his response on Joint Commissioner Deven Bharti's acquaintance with media baron Peter Mukerjea, he had jokingly said, "leave something for my memoirs". Five years later, Mr Maria, in his explosive book, has claimed that Mr Bharti was aware of the disappearance of Ms Bora, for whose murder her mother Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea are facing trial.
Mr Maria, who had handled the Sheena Bora murder case, was transferred dramatically in the middle of the investigation and informed via an SMS message from then Additional Chief Secretary (Home) KP Bakshi.
In his book 'Let Me Say It Now', Rakesh Maria writes in detail about the interrogation of Peter Mukerjea. Mr Maria also described the moment Peter Mukerjea told him that he had informed Deven Bharti about Sheena Bora's disappearance in 2012, a fact that came to light in 2015.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
"Your son comes and tells you that his fiance - your stepdaughter or sister-in-law or whatever you call her, is missing. And you do nothing about it?' I asked him.
"No sir. Not that I did nothing," said Peter.
"What did you do?" I asked him.
'Sir, I had told Deven!' Peter answered looking at Deven Bharti, Joint CP (Law and Order)."
I thought he had not understood my question and so I repeated it. 'You did what?' Peter answered that he and Indrani had told Deven Bharti about Sheena Bora's disappearance after Rahul had expressed his grievance. Now there was a deafening silence in the room. The proverbial pin dropping type. I looked at Deven with a quizzical look on my face, but he was poker-faced. And silent. I looked around the room and sensed that even the others were taken aback at Peter's disclosure. They all tried to look as if nothing of consequence had happened.
Deven Bharti was in charge of the functioning of all the police stations in Mumbai city and I thought it would be inappropriate to question him in front of all his subordinate officers. However why he had not divulged this vital information to me, and this despite he and I meeting on a daily basis and even travelling together to Khar Police Station! He had never told me that he knew Peter and Indrani."
Mr Maria writes in his book that he could not sleep a wink that night, and he kept thinking that Peter Mukerjea and Deven Bharti knew each other. He also says in the book that at the time Sheena had disappeared, Deven Bharti was the Additional Commissioner of Police in the Crime Branch and he could have done so much to locate her.
Mr Bharti, now the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad Chief, has denied Mr Maria's accusations.
"Mr Maria belongs to a family linked with Bollywood and, it seems, scriptwriters have a great influence on him. In addition, it appears to be a marketing strategy for the book as well as the web series, which attempts to grab more eyeballs rather than placing facts," he said.
"It's advisable to read the charge sheet and case diary rather than a piece of fiction. Won't comment much as the trial is in progress but would definitely tell that the whole investigation team was aware of all developments and were on the same page," he added.