Mumbai, June 20 (IANS) In what could a significant turning point in the Sheena Bora murder case, a special CBI court here on Monday pardoned driver Shyamvar Rai – one of the prime accused in the case – and permitted him to become an approver.
Special Judge H.S. Mahajan, while granting the pardon, instructed Rai to speak the truth about the entire episode.
“You will have to tell the truth, what you know, what happened, what you and others did. Is it okay?” he asked, to which Rai replied in the affirmative.
With this development, Rai – the former driver of one of the prime accused and ex-media baroness Indrani Mukerjea – who was arrested in August 2015 is no longer an accused and has become a prosecution witness.
In early May, Rai had given a two-page letter to the court seeking pardon and permission to become an approver by revealing the entire truth in the sensational murder case.
Daughter of Indrani from an earlier liaison, Sheena Bora was allegedly strangulated on April 24, 2012, and her body was burnt and disposed off in the forests near Gagode village of adjoining Raigad district early the next morning.
Besides Indrani, her former husband Sanjeev Khanna, her present husband and former media tycoon Peter Mukerjea and Rai were arrested last year.
The case came to light after Rai was nabbed for possessing a weapon illegally last year by the Khar police. It was later taken over by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
He spilled the beans on the murder case and after 10 months, sought a pardon in return for turning an approver.
Earlier this month, the CBI in its reply to the application, said it had no objections to make Rai an approver.
Soon after his arrest, Rai had told the Khar police and later the CBI what had transpired on April 24-25, 2012, how Sheena was murdered, burnt and her body disposed off in a suitcase around 100 km south of Mumbai.
He also described how a day before the murder, Indrani had allegedly conducted a recce of the spot and booked a room for Khanna in Hotel Hilltop in Worli as part of the conspiracy. Rai later led the CBI team to the exact site where Sheena’s body was dumped.
While Indrani is currently lodged in Byculla Womens Jail, Peter Mukerjea and Khanna are in Arthur Road Central Jail.
Initially, the case was handled by then Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria, Joint Police Commissioner Deven Bharti and other senior officers before Maria was abruptly promoted and in September 2015 the case was transferred over to CBI. Police teams were dispatched to Kolkata, Guwahati and Dehradun, but the real motives behind the crime eluded the investigators.
Among the probable motives being investigated is a transfer of around Rs nine billion to foreign bank accounts.
During the probe, stunning revelations came forth including a letter purportedly forged by Indrani on Sheena’s behalf to show she was alive and in the US, and her claims that Sheena and her brother Mikhail were her siblings and not children.