Mumbai,By Atir Khan & Kamlesh Sutar,September 9,2015:-Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria’s promotion at a time when the police were closing in on the motive behind Sheena Bora’s murder has raised many eyebrows.
After day-long speculation that the move was deliberate to distance Maria from the probe, the government orders by the evening brought speculation to rest.
Maria, who has been in the thick of the Sheena murder case investigations, was on Tuesday abruptly shifted from the post of Mumbai police commissioner to DG, Home Guards.
It was a promotion but the shift from the most coveted position at a crucial juncture of the Sheena probe surprised many as he was anyway scheduled to relieve the office by this month-end. Ahmed Javed was appointed the new Mumbai police commissioner.
However, after the sudden action created a storm, the Maharashtra government later in the day said Maria would continue to supervise the Sheena probe.
Devendra Fadnavis had recently said Maria should also pay attention to other cases in the city. Maria’s promotion coming close on the heels of the statement was being seen as a political move due to the unhappiness of the current political dispensation.
Rumours doing the rounds in police circles were that Maria had did not even visited the spot in Malwani where 104 people had died after drinking hooch. He, however, was giving excessive attention to the high-profile Sheena case.
His frequent visits had become a talking point as it was unusual for the police chief to get involved in the probe at the police station-level. Maria had made several visits to Khar Police Station and had personally interrogated the accused in the case.
Perhaps he got involved in Sheena’s case as the tip-off which led to unravelling of three-year-old murder mystery came to him.
However, Additional Home Secretary KP Bakshi told Mail Today that Maria had requested for a posting with less burden and the move was been considered for at least last three weeks.
He was promoted a little ahead of his due promotion, keeping in mind the bureaucratic requirements.
NCP leader Nawab Malik gave the government move a political twist and said Maria had been transferred as he was probing the money laundering angle into the case. And the move to effect his promotion had been done on the directions from Delhi.
However, the government rubbished this claim and said it was baseless rhetoric and nothing else.
But Mumbai police did ask the Enforcement Directorate to look into the money laundering aspect in the case as some transactions made in the UK and Spain appear to be suspicious. However, police are of the view that those transactions don’t appear to have any direct connection with Sheena’s murder.
The police requested the ED to probe this angle as the police don’t have the powers to register a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
And these powers only rest with the ED as it has wherewithal to investigations involving financial transactions in foreign countries. Police can only probe if any cheating or fraud is involved or money as the motive of murder.
Meanwhile, Sanjeev Khanna, the stepfather of Sheena and a key accused in the sensational murder case, was on Tuesday remanded in judicial custody till September 21.
Khanna, who was produced in the Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate court here, had earlier filed an application before a court here, saying that he is in illegal detention and should be released forthwith.
Cops bank on cyber forensics to crack case
With the help of DNA tests Mumbai police have been able to prove Sheena’s body had been dumped in Raigad after the murder.
But without attributing any motive to the murder the probe remains incomplete. Cyber forensics is going to play a major role in finding the motive in this case as police have come across records of Skype and email exchanges between Indrani and Sanjeev.
Sources said police have got some of the most important leads in the case from Skype chat and email exchanges between Indrani and her former husband Sanjeev Khanna.
These records will be sent for forensic tests and will form a crucial part of evidence in the chargesheet.
The Skype and email exchanges between Indrani and Sanjeev have given significant leads about what the motive could be behind Sheena’s murder. Sources say the conversation on these two platforms gives a fair idea to them about how both were conspiring to eliminate Sheena and her brother Mikhail.
These conversations were a fallout of a fight between Indrani and Sheena months before the murder. Sheena had apparently used some harsh words for Indrani in front of people known to both. Indrani was humiliated but had tried to reconcile with Sheena. But the daughter had refused to listen to her mother.
After this incident Sheena had apparently told Rahul Mukherjea that her mother was having an affair with her former husband Sanjeev. When Rahul told this to Peter, the latter had discussed this with Indrani, who told him that Sheena and Rahul were only trying to create differences between them.
Thereafter Peter and Rahul also stopped talking to each other. It was after all this that Indrani got in touch with Sanjeev through Skype and conspired to eliminate Sheena.
The records of email exchanges between the two also corroborate this. Mumbai police have already written to Skype and Google to authenticate the exchange of conversation between the two. Once the police receive the confirmation on those documents, it will be sent to cyber forensics and will later be put up as crucial evidence pointing towards the motive in the murder. Police are making all possible efforts to make their investigations fool-proof.
After getting positive results in DNA testing from Kalina Lab, they have sent suitcases recovered from the accused for forensic testing. The samples of soil collected from the spot where Sheena’s body had been disposed of has also been sent for the tests.