A former police commissioner recalls his promotion during the Sheena Bora murder case

19 February 2020

Rakesh Maria, a former commissioner of police of Mumbai, was involved in investigating the 2012 murder of Sheena Bora—a 24-year-old human-resources executive. Her mother, the media executive Indrani Mukerjea, was arrested for the crime, in August 2015, and subsequently so were Sanjeev Khanna and Peter Mukerjea, her ex-husband and husband, respectively. At the time, Peter was one of Mumbai’s most powerful media professionals. 

In his newly published memoir, Let Me Say It Now, Maria remembers that while evidence was being gathered for the probe, Peter Mukerjea was regularly summoned to the Khar police station and questioned. Maria also recalls briefing Devandra Fadnavis, the Maharashtra chief minister at the time, on one occasion, when he stated that though Peter had not been present during the murder, his complicity was being looked into. On 8 September 2015, Maria was promoted to the position of director-general of police of the state’s home guards, effectively removing him from what was an immensely high-profile criminal case at the time. This was followed by media speculation that Maria had known the Mukerjeas socially, which he had categorically denied. Fadnavis suggested in a 2016 interview that Maria was promoted “a little early to avoid controversies.” 

In Let Me Say It Now, Maria claims that shortly after his transfer, the media began reporting that his successor, Ahmad Javed, knew Indrani and her husband Peter socially. He also recalls a sleepless night on 7 September 2015. That day, he had been hit by the realisation that Peter Mukerjee knew Deven Bharti—at the time, the joint commissioner of police, law and order—on first-name terms. This was after he had asked Peter why he had not done anything about Sheena’s absence, to which he allegedly got the reply, “Sir, I had told Deven!” Maria adds, “Deven Bharti had not thought it fit to tell me even once that the Mukerjeas were close to him. On the contrary, whenever I would discuss with him the mystery of the nonregistration of the missing complaint or the accidental death report, he would keep his silence.” In the following excerpt from the book, Maria recounts the circumstances surrounding his promotion, and how he was kept in the dark about the decision. 

Rakesh Maria is a former commissioner of police, Mumbai.

Keywords: Sheena Bora Devendra Fadvanis Indrani Mukerjea Peter Mukerjea memoir