Mumbai: Former Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria has claimed that his successor Ahmad Javed knew the Sheena Bora murder case accused couple, Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, socially, and that Peter also knew the then joint commissioner of police (law and order) Deven Bharti on "first name terms".
Maria, who investigated some high-profile cases like the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and also headed the probe into the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, made the revelation in his memoir Let Me Say It Now released on Monday.
Deven Bharti, now Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief, rejected the claim, saying it appears to be a marketing strategy for the book.
Peter Mukerjea was arrested on November 19, 2015 in the Sheena Bora murder case, in which his former wife Indrani Mukerjea is the main accused.
Sheena Bora, 24, was Indrani Mukerjea's daughter from an earlier relationship. The killing came to light in 2015 when Indrani Mukerjea's driver Shyamwar Rai, who had helped them dispose of the body, was arrested in another case. Rai later turned approver in the case.
As per Maria's book, Peter Mukerjea and Deven Bharti were "on first name terms".
Maria has also written that Ahmed Javed also knew the Mukerjeas socially, adding that they were invitees to the latter's Eid party.
According to excerpts from the memoir, during interrogation in the murder case, Peter Mukerjea told Maria that he had approached Deven Bharti in 2012 to complain about Sheena Bora going missing.
The book mentions that when Maria asked Peter Mukerjea about "doing nothing" when he found out about Sheena's sudden disappearance, he replied, "Sir, I had told Deven!"
Recalling Mukerjea's interrogation, Maria said, "That night I couldn't sleep a wink. The thought uppermost in my mind was to find out the exact meaning of what Peter had told me in the evening."
"It meant that Peter Mukerjea knew Deven Bharti on first name terms. And I had not known this all these days. Moreover, Deven Bharti had not thought it fit to tell me even once that the Mukerjeas were close to him," he says in the book.
Maria claimed that whenever he would discuss with Deven Bharti the mystery of non-registration of a missing complaint or accidental death report, he would keep silent.
"And this from my Joint CP (L&O)? At the time of Sheena's disappearance, Deven Bharti was the Additional CP in the Crime Branch," Maria wrote.
"He could have done so much then itself to look for Rahul's girlfriend (referring to Sheena Bora)! It was imperative that I get to the bottom of it all, without upsetting the investigating team that was doing a good job," he wrote.
While mentioning about Javed knowing the Mukerjeas "socially", Maria wrote, "Was there a deliberate attempt to discredit the probe by spreading the falsehood that I knew the Mukerjeas socially? I had categorically denied it, but the atmosphere of suspicion persisted."
Maria was later appointed as director-general (Home Guards) and Javed then took charge as Mumbai police chief.
"A week after my removal, it turned out that not the previous CP but the new CP (Javed who was later sent as ambassador to Saudi Arabia) knew the Mukerjeas socially and they were invitees to his Eid party," Maria wrote.
Maria also mentioned in the book that he had conveyed to then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis that he did not shield the accused as the case, undetected for three years, was unearthed by his team.
"The Sheena Bora case, which was undetected for three years, was unearthed by my team. If we wanted to shield them, then why would we have detected the case in the first place?! Also, I along with my team had this detection for only 12 days before I was promoted and transferred," he wrote.
"Peter Mukerjea's role and financial transactions were being parallelly probed in the case. The CBI took 90 days to bring out Peter Mukerjea's role and then arrest him!! This is sad, unfair and unjust to me and the Mumbai Police team which detected this buried case," Maria conveyed in his message to Fadnavis.
Rejecting Maria's claim, Deven Bharti said, "Maria belongs to a family linked with Bollywood and, it seems, scriptwriters have a great influence on him. In addition, it appears to be a marketing strategy for the book as well as the web series, which attempts to grab more eyeballs rather than plain facts."
Moreover, for a policeman, it is advisable to read the charge sheet and case diary rather than a "piece of fiction", Bharti said.
"Won't comment much as the the trial is in progress but would definitely tell that the whole investigation team was aware of all developments and were on the same page till the investigation was with Mumbai Police," he added....