Mumbai: Merely hours after announcing a crucial breakthrough in the Sheena Bora murder, Rakesh Maria, Mumbai’s police chief, has been reassigned to a new job.
Last night, Maria told reporters that DNA tests had established conclusively that Sheena Bora (24) was indeed the daighter of Indrani Mukerhjea, one of three people arrested for the murder that has transfixed India over the last fortnight.
Since the arrest of Indrani Mukerjea from her home in Worli, Maria had exhibited a robust appetite for the case, clocking long hours interrogating her and others linked to the case, including her husband Peter Mukerjea, then detailing the developments in regular press briefings. The hands-on attitude drew a remonstrance from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who said, over the weekend, that the police must distribute its attention equally within cases.
The Mumbai Police has been drawing criticism for appearing to play fast and loose with the basic tenets of a complex criminal investigation. Even before requesting forensic confirmation, it declared that a skull found recently in a forest was that of Sheena Bora, last seen alive in April 2012. An overflow of leaks kept reporters coming back for more, their coverage often erasing vital lines between facts and leads.
Maria has swapped places with Ahmed Javed as Director General of Home Guards, Maharashtra, whose comments after taking office today signalled a drastically different approach to the Sheena Bora inquiry. “The case should be handled properly, and evidence collected in such a way that it becomes a complete case when it is put up for trial,” said the new Police Commissioner.
Maria was due for promotion in 20 days; last night, as talk built about the government’s growing unhappiness with him, he met Chief Minister Fadnavis.
Just weeks ago, the Chief Minister had sought for an explanation as to why Maria had, in 2014, met in London with tainted cricket tycoon Lalit Modi, accused of financial crimes in India.