Inching ahead in the Sheena Bora murder case investigation, Mumbai police on Wednesday recorded the statement of former media tycoon Peter Mukherjea, the husband of prime accused Indrani Mukherjea.
Peter was brought from his Worli residence to the Khar police station around 10.30 am and grilled for nearly nine hours on various aspects of the murder case.
According to official sources, among the aspects on which Peter was questioned was his knowledge of the relationships between his wife Indrani and her children Sheena and Mikhail, with Peter's son from a previous marriage, Rahul Mukherjea, with Indrani's ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna, and whether Peter had any inkling of the murder plan being hatched.
Police officials close to the investigation said Peter was initially given a written questionnaire containing 25 questions. He was later questioned orally. "We will record his statement again on Thursday to find out if there are any discrepancies," a police officer said talking to Times of India.
The same set of questions given to Peter was also given to Indrani, who was brought in from the Bandra police lock-up and made to sit in an adjoining room. Their replies were matched late Wednesday evening.
Peter was questioned extensively about his family, including his stand on Rahul's engagement to Sheena. He was also asked if he was aware that Indrani was in constant touch with her ex-husband Khanna, reports TOI.
Other questions included who did he think killed Sheena and what could be the motive? And why did he not suspect foul play in Sheena's disappearance?
The TOI reports that the police team also sought to know if he was aware that his marriage with Indrani was her third and whether Indrani had told him about her ex-partner Siddhartha Das and the two children - Sheena and Mikhail - she had from him.
Peter was also grilled on certain financial aspects concerning the family as police attempt to unravel a money angle to deduce the exact motives behind Sheena's killing, which has eluded the investigators so far.
While the accused were being quizzed, a police team reached Peter's home, 5 km away from the police station, at around 3 pm and searched his and Indrani's bedrooms.
The investigators impounded a laptop and a few documents belonging to Indrani from there, but no official comment on the developments was available.
Shortly after his wife Indrani was arrested on 25 August, Rahul made the sensational revelation that Sheena was actually the daughter, and not the sister of Indrani, as was previously believed.
Meanwhile, criminal lawyer Abha Singh has termed the police action of searching Peter's home as "very late" and demanded that he be treated as a "suspect".
"Why did the Mumbai police give him nine days to wipe out all the incriminating evidence against him? Why he kept mum despite knowing all the deeds of Indrani?" Singh asked.
Peter, who has been married to Indrani for 13 years and set up a media company with her, had first said he was unaware that Sheena was his wife's daughter as she had been introduced to him as her sister.
However, a few days after Indrani's arrest, Peter amended his version to say Sheena did inform him that she was his step-daughter, but he had no reasons not to believe his Indrani's denial of that claim though he found it "difficult to digest".
In a related development, a Mumbai police team reached the Kolkata residence of Siddhartha Das, the ex-partner of Indrani.
Das, who has admitted that Sheena and her brother Mikhail were born to him and Indrani out of wedlock, has expressed willingness to cooperate in the murder probe.
However, it was not immediately clear whether Das would be arrested or brought to Mumbai for questioning.
During the probe on Wednesday, Indrani was reported to have told police that she was opposed to the incestuous relationship between Rahul and Sheena, and also had apprehended that the duo (Sheena-Rahul) could harm her professionally.
However, so far, police have not brought the accused trio - Indrani, Khanna and the driver Shyamvar Rai - face-to-face yet or confronted them with Peter or any of the other family members like his brother Gautam Mukherjea, Mikhail and Rahul.
Peter was questioned on three occasions last week, as also his son, Rahul, besides Mikhail, who arrived her from Guwahati and provided certain evidence to Mumbai police which were being verified.
Police have also taken cognizance of Mikhail's claim that Indrani was conspiring to kill him and a fresh charge to this effect has been added in the remand application filed before the Bandra magistrate court on Monday.
A Criminal Investigation Department team visited the forests near Gagode village in Raigad district, around 95 km south of Mumbai, where the accused trio burnt and disposed of Sheena's body on the late evening of 24 April, 2012.
Over three years later, Mumbai police on Wednesday traced out a vendor in south Mumbai from whom Indrani and driver Rai bought two suitcases, one of which was allegedly used to dispose of Sheena's body in Raigad, and the other was kept for Mikhail.
Rai took the investigators to a roadside vendor in Dadar area on Tuesday evening, from whom they had bought in 2012 the two suitcases worth Rs 5,000.
The statement of the vendor - who is likely to be made a police witness - who recognised Rai, will help reinforce the police charge of a preplanned conspiracy hatched to kill Sheena and later Mikhail.
Presently, Indrani, Khanna and Rai are on an extended police custody till 5 September.
Police are awaiting the DNA tests and forensic reports of the purported remains of Sheena's body recovered from Raigad which could be major clincher, though the motive behind her killing remains a mystery.
With inputs from agencies.
Updated Date: Sep 03, 2015 12:55 PM