Former CEO of media group Star India arrested in murder case gripping India

Indian police escort former media executive Indrani Mukherjea from a city court in Mumbai on Aug 31, 2015.
Indian police escort former media executive Indrani Mukherjea from a city court in Mumbai on Aug 31, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

MUMBAI (AFP) - The former chief executive of Indian media behemoth Star India has been arrested in connection with a murder case that is gripping the country, investigating officers said on Friday (Nov 20).

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

"He has been arrested and his custodial interrogation is going on in Mumbai," an official at the CBI who asked not to be named told AFP.

"We took this step because there are inconsistencies in his statements about how much he knew in regard to the murder case.

"Once the interrogation is done we will formally spell out the charges against him."

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

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 having an affair with Mr Mukerjea's son from a previous marriage.

Mr 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 they had filed charges against Indrani Mukerjea and two others over the murder three years ago.

"The Central Bureau of Investigation has today filed 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 TV 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 Mr Mukerjea's son Rahul.

Mumbai police initially registered the case before the CBI, India's leading investigating agency, took it over in September.