India media tycoon faces attempted murder rap

Former Star India chief executive Peter Mukerjea is said to have destroyed evidence and lied to investigators to protect his wife Indrani (right), who is accused of murdering her 22-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
Former Star India chief executive Peter Mukerjea (above) is said to have destroyed evidence and lied to investigators to protect his wife Indrani, who is accused of murdering her 22-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.PHOTOS: TWITTER PAGE OF PETER MUKERJEA, FACEBOOK PAGE OF INDRANI MUKERJEA
Former Star India chief executive Peter Mukerjea is said to have destroyed evidence and lied to investigators to protect his wife Indrani (right), who is accused of murdering her 22-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
Former Star India chief executive Peter Mukerjea is said to have destroyed evidence and lied to investigators to protect his wife Indrani (above), who is accused of murdering her 22-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.PHOTOS: TWITTER PAGE OF PETER MUKERJEA, FACEBOOK PAGE OF INDRANI MUKERJEA

He is also charged with kidnapping, criminal conspiracy over killing of his wife's daughter

MUMBAI • The former chief executive of Indian media behemoth Star India has been charged with attempted murder of his wife's daughter, whom she had claimed was her sister, in a scandal that is gripping the country.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Peter Mukerjea, one of India's top media bosses, late on Thursday after charging his wife with murdering her daughter, Ms Sheena Bora, who was born from a previous relationship.

A CBI official who asked not to be named had said earlier yesterday, before Mukerjea was hauled to court, that the 59-year-old was arrested as there were "inconsistencies in his statements about how much he knew in regard to the murder case".

Mukerjea was yesterday charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy by the CBI. Sources told NDTV that Mukerjea had destroyed evidence and lied to investigators to protect his wife Indrani Mukerjea.

Indrani, 43, is accused along with her driver and former husband of strangling Ms Bora to death before dumping her body in a forest and setting it alight.

  • A tale of murder

  • April 24, 2012: Ms Sheena Bora vanishes after taking leave of absence from work and resigning on the same day. She is not reported missing by her family. Her mother Indrani Mukerjea tells family members she has gone to the United States.

    May 23, 2012: Police find a burnt body in a forest near Mumbai.

    Aug 21, 2015: Indrani's driver Shyam Rai is arrested after a pistol is seized from him.

    Aug 26: Indrani confesses that Ms Bora is not her sister, but her daughter from a previous marriage.

    Aug 27: Rai says he killed Ms Bora and dumped her body as instructed by Indrani.

    Aug 27: Sanjeev Khanna, a businessman and former husband of Indrani, is arrested.

    Aug 28: Khanna, who had denied any role in the death, tells police he sat next to Ms Bora's body in a car in Mumbai on April 24, 2012. The body was placed next to him by Rai when he fell asleep in the backseat.

    Aug 31: Indrani is charged with attempting to kill her stepson, Mr Rahul Mukerjea, who had been engaged to Ms Bora before her death.

    Sept 3: Indrani confesses to her role in the murder.

    Sept 7: DNA tests confirm the remains belong to Ms Bora.

    Nov 19: Indrani's husband Peter Mukerjea is arrested for hiding his knowledge of the murder. The Central Bureau of Investigation files charge sheet against Indrani, Khanna and Rai for Ms Bora's death.

    Nov 20: Mukerjea is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy.

Ms Bora, 22, was murdered in April 2012 and her burnt body was discovered the following month in woods in India's western state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital.

Indrani was arrested in August on suspicion of murdering the young woman, who was engaged to Mukerjea's son from a pre-vious marriage.

Mukerjea was chief executive of Fox-owned Star India from 1997 to 2007 before leaving to start his own television venture, and is seen as one of India's most successful media magnates.

His arrest came as the CBI released a statement saying it had filed charges against Indrani and two others over the murder three years ago.

"The Central Bureau of Investigation has today filed a charge sheet in the alleged murder of Ms Sheena Bora against three private persons, including her mother, on charges of criminal conspiracy, abduction, murder, destruction of evidence, giving false information, creation and use of forged documents, etc," the statement said.

The official at the CBI confirmed that the others charged were Indrani's driver Shyam Rai and former partner Sanjeev Khanna.

India's newspapers and television news channels have been abuzz with details of the scandal since it first broke, with many carrying complex family trees illustrating who's who in the case.

Various motives have been put forward, including a financial dispute over property dealings and a dislike of Ms Bora's relationship with Mukerjea's son Rahul.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'India media tycoon faces attempted murder rap'. Print Edition | Subscribe