After a decade of Sheena Bora’s murder, fiance Rahul Mukerjea deposes as witness in CBI court

After 10 years of Sheena Bora’s murder, her fiance, Rahul Mukerjea, was deposed as a witness in CBI court in Mumbai.

File photo of Rahul Mukerjea
File photo of Rahul Mukerjea (Photo: India Today)

The prime witness in the Sheena Bora murder case, Rahul Mukerjea, was deposed before a CBI court in Mumbai where the trial has been underway since the last few years. In the court, Rahul's father, Peter Mukerjea, who he referred to as papa, and Indrani Mukerjea sat in the dock at the back of the court. Both Peter and Indrani are accused in the case of conspiring and then killing Sheena, who was Rahul's fiance. According to the agency, Indrani had two children from her partner Siddharth Das, Sheena and Mikhail. Mikhail lived in Guwahati with Indrani's parents.

During the couple of hours that Rahul was deposed, his mother Shabnam, Peter's first wife, sat outside the court room. Peter and Indrani were husband and wife at the time of the incident, which according to CBI, was April 24, 2012. Indrani and Peter separated after arrest when they were behind bars. Both Peter and Indrani, during Rahul's deposition, noted down each word that fell from Rahul, who stood in the witness box.

The lone accused in the case who is still behind bars, Sanjeev Khanna, had not yet reached court when Rahul started to depose. Rahul looked at Peter and Indrani at times while he referred to them and started speaking about how he had met Sheena in 2008. He told the court, "Sheena was introduced to me as Indrani's sister. I was there for about 2-3 months at Peter's house during my first trip. I did not have much to do and I was not sure whether I wanted to stay in India or I wanted to go back." Rahul did eventually go back to England but Sheena and he started exchanging messages and they became friends.

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He said that he went to England and came back to stay at his father's house in Marlow bungalow, but did not stay there too long as "Indrani and papa did not want me to be at their home doing nothing, so they helped me find a flat at Bandra with a person who was Indrani's colleague. On weekends, I used to go to Marlow."

Rahul recounted an incident and said, "On one evening towards the end of 2008, Sheena was very upset and she was crying. I asked her as to why she was upset. She told me that she did not want to pretend to be the sister of Indrani. She was finding it difficult to see Vidhie (Indrani's daughter by Sanjeev Khanna) being treated as a daughter where she has to pretend that she is a sister of Indrani."

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After hearing this, Rahul had offered Sheena to come stay with him, which she did, but Peter and Indrani did not like the relationship between the two. Indrani took Sheena away to Delhi in 2009 and, according to Rahul, Sheena was admitted to a hospital where some antipsychotic medicine, a sedative that is taken for hysteria, was administered to her. Indrani also contacted Sheena's ex-boyfriend and sent Sheena with him to Bengaluru. However, Sheena did not want that relationship and had thus, spoken to her childhood friend, who took her to his place. Rahul then went to Bangalore to get Sheena back when he saw what medication she had been taking. He went to a hospital with Sheena where even the doctor told her that she was perfectly fine and she did not need to take medicine.

Rahul took Sheena with him to his mother's house in Dehradun, as Sheena was apprehensive that Indrani might find out about her in Guwahati. After staying in Dehradun for a few weeks, when Sheena's health improved, they went to Guwahati to collect her belongings and return to Mumbai as Sheena got a new job.

Rahul recounted another incident of 2009 when Sheena had received an unpleasant mail from Vidhie's email account. Vidhie denied sending it and because of this "some very hurtful, angry words were exchanged." The couple cut off all contact with Peter and Indrani and this led to Rahul saying, "2010 was peaceful." However, In 2011, everyone gathered in Goa for a cousin's wedding. There, Rahul recounted how his arms were outstretched but Peter refused to hug him until they apologised to Indrani.

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Rahul further added, "I obviously felt hurt about that. At the function, we avoided seeing them. At night, Sheena received a message from Vidhie in which she said that Indrani is very angry and "wants to get rid of someone". We were obviously very scared and could not understand why somebody would write that."

After coming back from Goa, Sheena and Rahul decided to get married, so they went to Dehradun around 2011 Diwali and got engaged. Sheena's grandparents were informed and they were happy, said Rahul.

He further said, "Sheena wanted to pursue studies in the UK and she had applied for an MBA course in Oxford Brooks University, and she had received an acceptance letter for the MBA course, for the beginning of 2013. She was looking for funding, so in early 2012, Sheena and Indrani resumed contact. Sheena needed help and finances for her studies, accommodation and travel and her thinking was that my mother (Indrani) is in a good position and being a mother, Indrani should help."

In the first half of April 2012, Sheena and Indrani met and after the meeting at a five-star hotel, “Sheena said that Indrani's attitude had changed, and she was accepting and helpful. Sheena and Indrani had arranged their second meeting later that month," said Rahul.

On the date of the incident, April 24, Sheena had taken half a day at work, and he had gone to pick her up from the office, brought her home, she got ready, and he dropped her at Bandra. Speaking about the time when he dropped Sheena, Rahul said, "As I was driving, I did not recognise the car, but I saw Indrani sitting at the back of a silver colored car and Shyam (her driver) sitting in the front. There was one person standing outside the car smoking a cigarette and at that time I did not know he was with them." However, later, when the court asked Rahul to recognize the person, Rahul pointed to Sanjeev Khanna.

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Talking about the last time Rahul had seen Sheena, he said, "Sheena got down from the car and she said, ‘bye, love you, see you later’ and walked towards Indrani's car."

Subsequently, Sheena never returned, and he never got to talk to her. He only received replies from her number which first said she was at Taj Land's End hotel, then that she was heading to the Royal China restaurant and later in the night that "She is having fun catching up with Indrani and she wanted to spend the night with her." Rahul said, "I was quite surprised because a day before she was in two minds as to whether to go or not as she was still apprehensive. I was surprised but I said that I would catch her in the morning, so I messaged have fun, take care."

But the next day too, Sheena did not return, and Rahul said, "The next day was Saturday, but it was not a day off from work, she had to go to work. She was always diligent and would never miss a day without informing her employer. So, this was strange, and her phone kept ringing. I had sent her some messages too and she replied she would be home in a couple of hours."

Rahul again got a message that "she had found a wealthy guy and she is no longer in love with me and I should not chase her. My reply was that I couldn't accept this text message. You can tell me. Her reply was - not now, but maybe in a couple of months later. I became very fearful as I suspected that something may have happened like 2009 when somebody else is sending the messages. I never thought at that time or even later that her life was in danger. I thought she must have been sedated or taken away somewhere else."

Rahul after that, recounted the number of times, he went to police stations, contacted officers like Param Bir Singh who told him to register missing complaint, but their own police stations refused to register them as they said that Sheena had gone with her own mother so she is fine and will come back.

Rahul kept calling everyone in the family to find out about his finance. He added, "The response from Indrani was not truthful I felt and that is why I started to record the conversations that I was having with Indrani on phone. She first told me that she had gone to Nagpur and she had met somebody from Nagpur. Then she also told me later that Sheena had gone back to Guwahati. She also told me that Sheena had gone to the USA. She had left her passport and all her belongings at home. Indrani also told me that she had dropped Sheena at Bandra. I was obviously concerned that Indrani was lying for some reason. If someone genuinely did not know, they would say they did not know instead of saying she is here, there."

Rahul emphasised, "I was fearful that something had happened to Sheena like in 2009. Even at that point, I did not think that she was killed."

Rahul enquired about Sheena with her employers as well and told Peter and Indrani as well that the employers had not yet received a resignation letter from Sheena. "When I told Indrani that the resignation letter was not received, then a few days later a resignation letter was emailed to Sheena's employer," said Rahul.

Rahul said that he kept calling Sheena's grandparents, Indrani, Peter, and even her father, Das. “Everyone was worried and said that I needed to find Sheena. But Sheena's grandparents later on changed their version and said that she is very happy in the USA and don't chase her," said Rahul.

Rahul's deposition ended on the day after this and will continue on June 17 when the recorded conversations will be played in court. Indrani, through her lawyer Neha Maru, has said that she will be cross examining Rahul when her turn comes.

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