Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria has revealed his version of events leading up to and after he was suddenly transferred while investigating the Sheena Bora murder case
- Rakesh Maria says he was informed about his transfer via a text message
- Maria says a top police officer kept curcial information from him
- Maria admits there may have been miscommunication with then CM Devendra Fadnavis
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria has finally broken his silence over his sudden transfer during the investigation into the Sheena Bora murder case and allegations that he had tried to shield and protect Peter Mukerjea. Peter, along with his ex-wife Indrani, is accused in the 2012 murder of his step-daughter Sheena.
The Sheena Bora murder case came into the limelight in 2015 when the Mumbai Police arrested Indrani Mukerjea and accused her of murdering Sheena in 2012. The case was registered at the Khar police station and Rakesh Maria — a decorated IPS officer who was the Mumbai Police commissioner at that time — was actively involved in interrogating first Indrani and later Peter Mukerjea.
However, right when the Sheena Bora murder case was making daily headlines, Maria was promoted and transferred as director general of home guards. It was speculated at that time that Maria was transferred since the Maharashtra government, then led by Devendra Fadnavis, was unhappy with Maria’s role in the Sheena Bora murder case.
Faced with the speculation, the Fadnavis government issued an unusual statement that Maria, though not with the Mumbai Police anymore, would continue to “oversee” the Sheena Bora murder case. Days later the government ended up transferring the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation — a move that was seen as a bid to end the controversy surrounding the murder investigation.
Now, Rakesh Maria — who had stayed mum on all the developments while he was in service — has revealed his version of events in a tell-all book. Writing in his book ‘Let Me Say It Now’, Maria says that a top Mumbai Police officer had kept him in the dark about crucial information related the Sheena Bora murder case. Maria also says that he suspected somebody of wrongly briefing then CM Devendra Fadnavis about the murder case on his behalf.
The transfer itself was sudden, Maria writes, adding that he was informed about it via a text message. In the book, Maria goes on to question if the Maharashtra government knew of his successor Javed Ahmed’s links to the Mukerjeas. Maria also asks what happened to the inquiry launched to probe lapses on part of the Raigad district police that in 2012 recovered human remains that were later found to be Sheena’s.
‘KEPT IN THE DARK’
In his book, Maria says that he was kept in the dark by Mumbai Police’s then joint commissioner Deven Bharti — who was responsible for law and order — about knowing Peter and Indrani. According to the book, during interrogation Peter told Maria that he had approached Deven Bharti in 2012 to complain about Sheena going missing. Bharti apparently did not inform Maria about this.
Describing the night when he stumbled upon this at the Khar police station, Maria says that he confronted Peter about not doing anything when he found out about Sheena’s sudden disappearance in 2012. To this Peter replied, “Sir, I had told Deven!”
How come Mantralaya sources did not see the danger that this could be an attempt to appoint a Mukherjee friendly CP?
– Rakesh Maria on his transfer
Maria says it took some time for the investigation team to realise that Deven Bharti was approached with a missing complaint of Sheena. “I looked at Deven with a quizzical look on my face, but he was poker-faced,” Maria writes, adding that all the officers in that interrogation room were taken aback at Peter’s disclosure but tried to look unaffected.
Maria says he didn’t question Bharti at the time since their subordinates were present in the interrogation room. But he adds that Peter’s revelation and the indication that he apparently was on first-name basis with Deven Bharti surprised him. Maria says that night was sleepless for him since he wanted to understand what had Peter told him that night.
Before he could do anything, Maria was abruptly transferred the very next morning. Maria says he was informed about the transfer by the then additional chief secretary (Home) KP Bakshi via a text message.
Maria goes on to describe what happened next — including Maharashtra government’s unusual statement that he would continue overseeing the Sheena Bora case — as a ‘flip-flop’ and ‘somersaults that the athletic Mantralaya tsars were executing’.
Maria also mentions that it was unusual for a Mumbai Police commissioner to be transferred like he was just before the ten-day Ganpati festival, during which the city police makes extensive security arrangements.
I looked at Deven with a quizzical look on my face, but he was poker-faced
– Maria on Peter’s claim that he knew Deven Bharti
In his book, Maria also raises questions about the man who placed him as Mumbai Police commissioner — Ahmed Javed. Maria questions if the government knew of that the Mukerjeas were once invited to an Eid party thrown by Javed. “How come Mantralaya sources did not see the danger that this could be an attempt to appoint a Mukherjee friendly CP?” Maria questions.
Maria also highlights the fact that Javed was in-charge of crime and law of all district police stations in Maharashtra when the human remains were discovered in the Gagode forest of Raigad district. The remains were later identified as that of Sheena Bora.
“An enquiry was launched into the serious lapses on the part of the district police to ascertain if there was an attempt to destroy evidence… what happened to that enquiry?” Maria questions in his book.
THE FADNAVIS CONNECTION
In his book, Maria rejects allegations that he misled Devendra Fadnavis on Peter Mukerjea’s involvement in the Sheena Bora murder case. In certain media reports, Fadnavis was quoted as saying that he was briefed that Peter was not involved in Sheena’s murder.
However, according to Maria that is not what he told Fadnavis. Maria says that he spoke to Fadnavis about the Sheena Bora murder case only once and told him that Peter was not in India at the time of crime, but his involvement was being probed.
Maria says he spoke to Fadnavis about his statements over text messages and was assured that a clarification would be issued. However, the clarification did not paint Maria in a great light.
An enquiry was launched into the serious lapses on the part of the district police to ascertain if there was an attempt to destroy evidence… what happened to that enquiry?
– Maria on probe into Raigad police
Reports quoted the chief minister saying that Maria was promoted to put an end to controversies surrounding him. Fadnavis, while saying Maria should be given the benefit of the doubt, was also quoted as saying that the case was transferred to CBI he was told that Peter is not directly involved in the case.
Maria admits that there may have been some miscommunication between him and Fadnavis and says he suspected that somebody had wrongly briefed Fadnavis on his behalf.
Maria also reveals that he sought permission from then additional chief secretary (Home) KP Bakshi to speak with the media as ‘scandalous and defamatory aspersions’ were cast on his role. Bakshi apparently never replied and Maria retired three months later.