A former Indian media executive has been arrested on suspicion of murdering her daughter for having an affair with her stepson, Mumbai police said on Thursday (28), in a case gripping India.
Indrani Mukerjea is accused, along with two others, of strangling Sheena Bora to death in 2012 before dumping her body in a forest in western Maharashtra state and setting it alight.
Indrani was a co-founder and a former executive with Mumbai-based television company INX Media. She is currently married to Peter Mukerjea, who was CEO of Rupert Murdoch’s Star India television company from 1999 to 2007. He is believed to be her third husband.
“We have arrested two accused, the other is her driver Shyam Rai. After they appeared in court we got custody until 31st August”, deputy police commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni told reporters.
Kulkarni said a third suspect, Sanjeev Khanna, reported to be a former husband of Indrani, had been arrested in Kolkata in West Bengal state for alleged involvement in the murder.
Indian media widely reported Khanna to be Indrani’s second husband, while the victim was the daughter from a previous relationship.
India’s newspapers and TV news channels were abuzz with details of the scandal on Thursday, with many carrying complex family trees illustrating who’s who in the case.
Kulkarni said new information had just come to light which led police to make the arrests more than three years after the killing.
Police believe the motive for the killing had been Indrani’s dislike of her daughter’s apparent relationship with Rahul Mukerjea, Peter’s son from a previous marriage, Kulkarni said.
“It was an honour killing because Sheena was having an affair with Rahul, which was not liked by Indrani,” he said. “The prima facie evidence suggests this was the reason for the murder.”
So-called honour killings are still carried out in India when families disapprove of relationships to protect what is seen as family pride.
Bora, 22, was killed in April 2012 and her burnt body was discovered the following month in woods near the town of Pen, according to Kulkarni.
“She had been strangled and petrol had been poured over the body before it was set on fire,” said the spokesman for the Mumbai force.