For almost 3 months now the life of an average Mumbai reporter has been taken over by the Sheena Bora murder case. It has been excruciating to deal with the various macabre details coming out of what was clearly a ruthless murder where the murderers had unshakeable faith that the girl had to go.
I have always been fascinated by how those who commit crimes rationalise it in their heads. What happens inside the head and heart of a person who decides that they have to kill and that the killing is justified. This was no accidental self defense killing, this was planned, this was considered the best way to deal with things by certain individuals.
Just a day after it was filed, some of us got a summary of the chargesheet filed by the CBI and a few days after that my bureau chief Megha Prasad accessed more details including some witness statements from the chargesheet. What emerged was the story of a girl, whom Indrani and her cohorts tried to eliminate, but she just wouldn’t go away.
According to the chargesheet, Indrani had had Mikhail and Sheena very early in life and she had given them in the care of her own parents. Years later when she married Peter and her pictures appeared regularly in Page 3 sections, her parents called her and said they were getting old and financially weak and to please take care of the children. The chargesheet mentions atleast two instances even this early when Sheena was administered sedatives. Despite all this, Sheena eventually came to Mumbai and started staying with the Mukherjeas. Indrani’s other daughter Vidhie recalls this was around the time when she was in std 3 and that both Sheena and Mikhail were introduced as Indrani’s sister and brother respectively to everyone.
Sometime later Rahul and Sheena entered into a relationship and they intended to get married. This was the beginning of a lot of friction. Both Rahul and Vidhie note several heated exchanges between Indrani and Sheena over the relationship. Both acknowledge that Peter knew about the mother daughter relationship since 2009. Sheena tries to reason out and even writes an emotional email asking Indrani shouldnt her happiness be what is important. Indrani the CBI claims then changes tack, tries to be accepting of the relationship and makes a show of rebuilding the relationship to build up to the dinner meeting with Sheena the night she was murdered.
After they disposed off the body the murderers must have thought Sheena is gone, their problems solved. But most exchanges amongst the family state that the convenient explanation of Sheena having gone to the US is not bought by most.
So far we do not know exactly what Peter thought. He only once said that Sheena was a taboo topic in his marriage to Indrani so he never raised it much. Rahul of course was the first to question and he kept on questioning for a long time. He went to 4 different police stations with no results. Police told him that since Sheena was an adult and had gone with her mother they couldnt do anything else. Why he didn’t file a habeas corpus is something we wonder though.
Vidhie also it seems was fond of Sheena somewhat. She was too young to understand most of what was going on. The first time she got to know Sheena was perhaps her sister and asked Indrani about it, Indrani shouted at her and said Rahul is telling lies to separate Indrani and Peter. After Sheena’s alleged murder, Vidhie gets an email from a fake account set up by Indrani posing as Sheena wishing her on her birthday. Around new year Vidhie tries to contact Sheena and wish her and with no reply forthcoming she mentions this to Indrani. What happens next is really twisted. Indrani posing as Sheena writes to Vidhie sometime late January accusing the young girl of lying. She berates Vidhie saying even she didnt respond to the birthday wishes and that her lies have caused enough confusion and so she should stop.
Even Sheena’s friends dont stop asking around. There are enough murmurs and a recent story by Midday states that despite telling everyone that Sheena was in the US, Indrani and Peter did contact a senior official informally as late as 2013 saying Sheena was missing but they later told the police she had been traced. This obviously was an attempt by Indrani to show she was concerned too.
In 2015 when Vidhie was deciding whether to study in the US or UK, Indrani even told her that Sheena being in the US could help her settle. This despite her having told the girl not to contact Sheena anymore.
On several occasions during the 3 years before the case was cracked, Indrani faced uncomfortable questions from near and dear ones and from those who knew Sheena. It is perhaps a mix of a sense of denial or the modern ‘busy’ness in our lives that a few emails here and there and a couple of fake FB posts could lull people into not digging deeper. The murderers thought Sheena died, but she lived on in the infrequent but continuing questions of those who knew her. She lived on in the emails, smses and various other digital evidence drummed up to stop those questions. They killed her, but she refused to die.
P.S. we are yet to read the entire chargesheet, this is based on what we have read so far