Maria won’t quit, but confusion clouds Sheena murder probe

Former Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria, who was abruptly promoted as director general of police (Home Guards), on Wednesday categorically assured that he will not quit, as uncertainty hit the investigation into the high-profile Sheena Bora murder case.

Late on Tuesday evening, the Maharashtra government decided that Maria, who handled the case since the beginning, would continue to supervise and monitor the probe.

However, till Wednesday evening, no written order to this effect was received by Maria’s office — and the probe suddenly seemed pushed to the backburner.

According to official sources, the investigations have reached a critical stage with the forensic matching of the DNA samples of the victim with her mother and prime accused Indrani Mukerjea, brother Mikhail Bora and biological father Siddhartha Das.

Besides, the probe has widened to investigating the money and property transactions with the possibility of some big names tumbling out when the police force was jolted by the shake-up on Tuesday.

An officer explained that new police commissioner Ahmad Javed has already taken office and as per norms, all officers and men must report to him.

With Maria supervising the investigation in the Sheena murder case, it was still unclear in what capacity he would be doing it, especially since the two departments — DGP Home Guards and DGP Mumbai Police Commissionerate — were vested with different powers and jurisdiction, he added.

Indrani, her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna and her former driver Shyamvar Rai have been arrested in connection with the murder of her daughter Sheena on April 24, 2012, and for dumping her body near a forested area in Gagode village in Raigad district.

The trio have been sent to judicial custody till September 21.

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Birth anniversary of Bhupenda celebrated

Over 180 open stages & parks inaugurated across State

The 89th birth anniversary of music maestro, the bard of Brahmaputra Dr Bhupen Hazarika was observed throughout the State in a splendid way on Tuesday. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi inaugurated 187 open stages and parks named after the balladeer’s Bhupen Hazarika in a programme centrally organized at Boko.

The open stages and parks are in 187 development blocks across the state, where people can stage cultural shows and other programmes free of cost round the year.

Inaugurating the open stages, Gogoi said, “Bhupen da was an international artiste and personality and at the same time a person of simplicity. Unity and integrity were his strength and he believed in his ideology of simplicity. He won the heart of every layman. He lives in the heart of every Assamese and will continue to live for ages to come.”

On the other hand, Cultural Minister Bismita Gogoi said that the ‘Samadhi Khetra’ will be completed soon. “As promised, the Samadhi Khetra of Dr Bhupen Hazarika will be completed by November,” she said.

The programme was also attended by Minister Rockybul Hussain and parliamentary secretary Rekibuddin Ahmed.

The Chief Minister earlier visited the music maestro’s final resting place at Jalukbari and paid tribute to the legend along with thousand others who thronged the ‘Samadhi Khetra to pay their tributes.

It may be mentioned that, apart from the government, various organizations such as Bishwaratna Bhupen Hazarika Samannay Satra (BBHSS), All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) also organized various programmes in Jalukbari as well as other parts of the State to mark the day.

The AASU organized a programme at Dighalipukhuri where hundreds of singers from different colleges and universities of the performed the numbers of the bard of Brahmaputra. The tributary programme was inaugurated by AASU advisor Dr Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya.

“Dr Bhupen Hazarika was an institution himself. We believe that his ‘Samadhi Khetra’ should be an extra ordinary one. Since the Gauhati University is already willing to donate more land for the memorial, we appeal the government to take up the issue and do the needful,” Dr Bhattacharya said.

The district administration also organized a tributary programme at Rabindra Bhawan of the city this evening and paid tribute to the maestro.

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Rebel Congress MLAs in dilemma

No guarantee of tickets by BJP, prospects of Congress tickets almost nil

The nine rebel Congress MLAs, who had met BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi expressing their desire to join the party, are facing increasing resistance from a strong lobby within the State BJP unit.

Nagaon MP Rajen Gohain today for the first time gave vent to the resentment brewing within the party over the reported move to induct the rebel Congress legislators in the BJP.

“We are not being kept in the loop. We don’t even know who are joining the party. We believe that the national leadership will not take any decision that is against the interests of State party workers,” Gohain said.

Gohain, Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Mangaldai MP Ramen Deka and Tezpur MP RP Sharma today went into a huddle with some senior party leaders, including former president Ranjit Das at the Circuit House here. The closed-door meeting lasted for over an hour. Sources said the MPs discussed the present scenario arising out of reports that the nine Congress rebel legislators may join the BJP soon.

A senior BJP member, who participated in the meeting, said “a dissident in another party cannot be a sincere worker in the BJP. He will create trouble wherever he is.”

A section of the State BJP camp is also peeved at reports that the Congress legislators have been assured tickets by the BJP leadership.

“In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, people voted for us because they wanted an alternative to the Congress. If we embrace the discarded Congress members, we will no longer be a formidable alternative,” rued another senior BJP leader.

Meanwhile, sources said that the BJP central leadership was non-committal on giving tickets to the nine rebel Congress legislators who are keen on joining the party. This had landed them in a piquant situation.

State Congress president Anjan Dutta even claimed that some of the rebel MLAs are now in touch with him and may not join the BJP. “They did not get an assurance for BJP tickets. Some of them are in touch with us. I do not feel they will quit the Congress,” Dutta said.

Even if the legislators remain in the Congress, sources said, most of them are unlikely to get tickets in the upcoming assembly elections.

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‘7 new features, numbering system to check fake currency’

To check the menace of fake Indian currency, new notes, especially the Rs.1,000 and Rs.500 denominations, will have 7 new security features and a new numbering system, official sources here said on Sunday. The Reserve Bank of India subsidiary Bhartiya Note Mudran Pvt Ltd (BRBNMPL) and the state-run Security Printing and Minting Corp are both working to introduce the revised number pattern in currency notes, the source said.

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‘I hate my mother… she is a witch’

Diary maintained by Sheena Bora when she was a teenager shows that she shared a strained relationship with her mother Indrani Mukherjea

Mumbai, Sept 3: Mumbai police have recovered the diary of Sheena Bora which bears testimony as to how much she hated her mother Indrani Mukherjea.

E-mail exchanges of an aggressive nature between Indrani Mukherjee and Sheena Bora are already being probed by the Mumbai Police.

The diary entries also reveal Sheena’s expectations from her father.

Accessed by a national daily, the diary of Sheena, the Guwahati girl allegedly murdered by her own mother, has “slam notes from friends, phone numbers and letters to her father”.

It is clear from the diary entries that Sheena “was sad about not being around her biological father Siddhartha Das and repeatedly urged him to come and visit her”.

The contents of the letters to her father suggest that Sheena was in touch with Siddharth Das. However, Das has told the media that he was barely in touch with Sheena Bora, who started writing her diary sometime in 2003.

One of her earlier diary entries say: “Daddy, I am very angry with you. O.k. I didn’t get any time to write any letter to you but you should have written to me. Very mean ha! Well, even I am sorry for not writing any letter to you. In Class X, we have to work very hard. In the morning at 7.30. We have to go to school and again I have to attend my maths coaching class 3 O’clock to 4.30 pm and again from 6 O’clock to 8 O’clock my science coaching class. I reach home at about 8.30 pm. Hope you can imagine how hard I’m working.”

She also writes: “Daddy, I’ve cut my nails and I haven’t grown them long. I’m following your advice – first studies then style. I know you have a lot to tell me but daddy don’t write anything in any of your letter. I hope you’ll come once before my HSLC exams. Why don’t you make a trip to Guwahati in December. Then you can tell me everything you wanted me to know.”

In a ‘draft’ letter, Sheena says: “Daddy actually I’m facing a problem. For my HSLC, I’m to fill up some forms and there we are to write to which caste we belong. Daddy, I’m really very confused for I am not sure about my caste. We have got the options – Schedule/OBC/…”.

The entry she made when she had just appeared for her pre-boards says that she could not study much due to her illness and scored 84 percent. She further asks her father in one of the letters: “Don’t you have the capability of starting something from (sic) your own instead of depending upon others.” She also advises him to leave the job at HITACHI KK and look for a better one. And in the same letter, she adds: “Oh! It seems as if I am trying to guide you.”

In one of the entries, Sheena asks Das to provide her with a certificate so that she could get scholarships for her further studies. The diary entry, marked June 28, 29 and 30, says that Sheena wanted her father to make expenses for her future.

In one of her later entries, which looks like it was written when she was studying for the board exams in Class X, she says that she does not know how to look for envelopes, and so has been unable to send letters. The entry also speaks volumes about her affection with Das and unhappiness over her grandparent’s attitude towards her father. “They say you are no good, and they don’t like you. But my conscience does not allow me to believe them,” she wrote.

The diary entries reveal that Sheena had not known much about her mother. However, Indrani was in the `corner of Sheena’s heart` because she was her mother. Notably, Sheena had stored clippings of news reports of her mother. News reports of INX media launching new channels, of Indrani being considered WSJ’s most powerful women with Indra Nooyi and others, etc were kept by Sheena in a folder, says the daily.

Sheena, as the diary suggests, was very lonely as a child. She writes: “Oh! Happy Birthday to me! But I am not happy. It seems as if I have got nothing in my life. Nothing! My future seems very bleak to me. Just depression has encircled me from all sides. Disgusting life it is. I hate my mother, that bloody b***h. She is not a mother. She is a witch…”

Sheena was also not happy when Indrani married Peter Mukherjea. “And now she got married with that old man (Peter Mukherjea). Her this act to Aita & Kaka (Sheena’s grandparents) seems very prestigious, very wise, but not in case of me (Read: my grandparents may find this prestigious or wise, but not me). I hate her. I wish her soul gets condemned and even in hell. I have much grief, much tears to flow but when, where and in front of whom.”

E-mail exchanges of an aggressive nature between Sheena Bora and her mother Indrani Mukherjee are being probed by the Mumbai Police to ascertain the motive leading to the former’s killing.

Sometime before Sheena’s gruesome murder on April 24, 2012, there were at least 20 heated e-mail exchanges with her mother, prime accused Indrani.

Investigators are hoping that these e-mails could provide clues to the motive leading to Sheena’s killing, allegedly by the trio comprising Indrani, her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna in connivance with Indrani’s driver Shyamvar Rai.

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Estimated loss of Rs 25,000 crore due to strike

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has estimated a loss of Rs 25,000 crore to the economy due to the all-India strike on Wednesday.

“Financial impact of the disruption of essential services might lead to an estimated loss of over Rs 25,000 crore to the economy thereby taking into account the numerous direct and indirect losses,” Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat said.

“The strike is likely to hit industrial activity due to poor workers’ attendance, besides footfall in retail trading markets will fall as the walkout will severely impact public transport and with bank employees remaining on strike it will affect operations at the banks,” he added. Normal life was hit in many states on Wednesday as millions of industrial and blue collar employees struck work in the first nationwide protest since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power more than a year ago.

Leaders of central trade unions which called the day-long strike claimed “unprecedented success” as banks, insurance companies and state-run as well as private factories shut across the country. Transport unions and traders too joined the protest in many places, leading to the closure of educational institutions and thin attendance in government offices. “A big jolt would accrue to the export cargo thereby throwing crucial delivery schedule to haywire, besides with exports being under pressure, such things like strike would give a further setback,” Rawat said.

The industry chamber feels the poor daily wage earners will be the worst affected.

“Labour reforms are necessary and the government should intervene to come to an agreeable solution in the interest of the industry and the nation as a whole,” Rawat said.

The strike is in support of 12 demands, including withdrawal of labour law amendments, a minimum wage of Rs.15,000 a month and against privatisation of public sector units. Unions said about 300 million workers were involved in the protest.

“Somehow, the trade unions and other stakeholders need to get a feeling of reassurance that labour reforms are meant to enhance employment opportunities and not take away the jobs and that overall objective is to strengthen jobs because it is only through enhanced consumer power that the industry can grow,” he added.

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‘Sheena, Mikhail my children’

Indrani’s first ‘husband’ resurfaces

Siddhartha Das, who had a live-in relationship with Indrani Mukherjea arrested for murdering her daughter Sheena Bora on Tuesday claimed to be the father of the victim and her brother, Mikhail Bora.

Das, who now lives in Dum Dum on the outskirts of the city, admitted that he never married Indrani and said the “ambitious woman” dumped him and his children as he was not “well off”.

Though he feels it strange to believe if a mother could murder her child, Das said Indrani should be “hanged” if she really murdered Sheena.

Having met Indrani in Shillong through common friends in 1986, Das said he was in a live-in relationship with her till 1989 when she left.

“We did not marry; she was in a college in Shillong and lived in the city. Through common friends we came to know each other. Then we had a live in relationship and I stayed at her residence. Her parent accepted our relationship.

“Sheena was born in 1987 and Mikhail in 1988. Sometime later after our son’s birth, she dumped me,” said Das who later moved to Arunachal Pradesh and subsequently settled in Kolkata in 1998.

Describing Indrani as “highly ambitious”, Das said she dumped him as he could not afford the high life she yearned for.

Das, who last spoke to Sheena when she was in class 10, said he didn’t want to rake up the past as the reason for not keeping in touch with his children.

“I last spoke to Sheena when she was in class 10. I never interacted with Mikhail. I was settled in Kolkata, happily married, so I didn’t want to rake up the past,” he said.

“Shocked and heartbroken” over his daughter’s murder, Das, who came to know about the incident only through the media, said he wanted the murderers to be punished and offered helping out in the investigations.

“I am heartbroken upset. I want all those involved to be punished. I am ready to cooperate with the investigation. I have nothing to hide so I am more than willing to help the police,” he said.

Asked if he believed Indrani could murder, Das said, “It feels strange to believe that a mother can kill her child…But there is a possibility a person driven by greed for money can do anything. If she has done it then should be hanged.”

Das also said he never kept track of Indrani after she left him.

“Since 1989 when she dumped me and my children, it has been a close chapter. I made no efforts to know what she was doing. To whom she was married.

“My wife and son are now aware about my past but they have said they are not bothered by it,” added Das.

Das’ wife claimed that she had no knowledge about her husband’s past life.

“I have been married to Das for 16-17 years. I didn’t know anything about his past and I have nothing to do with his past,” she said.

Indrani, wife of former media honcho Peter Mukherjea, Sanjeev Khanna, her ex-husband and her driver are behind bars for the murder of Sheena Bora.

Meanwhile, Mumbai police are expected to grill Das for more clues to the Sheena Bora murder case that has created countrywide buzz.

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Swiss banks ask Indians to use compliance window

Swiss and other European banks have asked Indian customers to avail the ongoing one-time compliance window granted by the tax department for disclosure of foreign assets.

The call has been made in the wake of the final month’s deadline to declare and pay tax on assets abroad beginning on Tuesday.

A source here told IANS on Monday that Swiss and Britain-based banks are asking Indian customers to provide fresh undertakings that all taxes have been paid on funds deposited by them in respective bank accounts.

Such undertakings have also been requested from high net worth individuals and corporate clients dealing in wealth and portfolio management, the source added.

The Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of New Tax) Act, 2015, or the black money act, for the first time allows levy of tax in India on assets kept abroad.

The ministry has notified September 30 as the expiry date of the compliance window, while allowing those with undisclosed income and assets abroad time till December 31 to pay the levies.

Unlawful undisclosed income abroad is taxed at a rate of 30 percent with an additional 30 percent penalty.

Failure to meet the declaration compliance window will attract an additional penalty of 90 percent for a total tax liability of 120 percent on the quantum of black money abroad.

The Income Tax department has filed 121 cases of prosecution against those entities whose names have appeared in the HSBC Geneva bank list.

The 121 cases were filed before the March 31 deadline after which these cases would have become time-barred and thus could not be prosecuted by the department.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said the government has completed an assessment of 350 foreign accounts and tax evasion proceedings had been initiated against 60 account holders.

This move followed the Supreme Court last year giving a list of 628 entities in the HSBC Geneva branch, furnished to it in a sealed envelope by the government of India, to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted in May last year.

Admitting that there was no official estimation of black money within India or stashed abroad, Jaitley told parliament during the budget session that the government was examining the reports of three institutes on the matter.

An unofficial estimate puts the sum somewhere between $466 billion and $1.4 trillion.

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Dispur cutting corners to pay salaries!

Eyebrows raised after Finance department orders transfer of all funds from Revenue Deposit to State exchequer

An office memorandum issued by the Finance department has blown the lid off the State’s sickly financial condition.

So acute is the financial crisis that Dispur has been prompted to transfer all funds in the Revenue Deposit to the State exchequer.

Unused funds are kept in the Revenue Deposit by the departments after approval from the Finance department. These are sanctioned funds under various heads which could not be utilized by the departments in a given financial year.

Officials say that the cumulative fund in the Revenue Deposit is to the tune of several hundred crores. The departments can withdraw the funds again from the Revenue Deposit only after a concurrence from the Finance department.

In a recent office memorandum, the Commissioner & Secretary (Finance) directed all the departments to withdraw the funds from the Revenue Deposit and deposit it in the state exchequer. The State government is at liberty to use the funds from the exchequer, raising doubts that these may be diverted for other exigent purposes like paying salaries.

Sources said that a number of schemes and projects have come to a standstill due to the financial crisis faced by the State government. The salary burden of the government has been increasing every year. In 2013-14, the actual salary burden was Rs 14,841.44 crore. It rose to Rs 16,325.58 crore (projection) last year, and is expected to increase further to Rs 17,958.14 crore this financial year.

The government has also announced plans to recruit some 6,000 LP teachers and as many constables, adding further to the salary burden. Both the recruitment processes are underway.

In another directive, the Finance department has suspended the powers of the administrative departments to issue ceiling of funds up to Rs 1 crore. Henceforth, all ceilings will be issued by the Finance department.

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‘Naga Accord should not infringe upon constitutional boundary of Assam’

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today told Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh that though the Government of Assam has welcomed the Naga Peace Accord as it would bring about peace in Nagaland and the Northeast as a whole, it would oppose tooth and nail if the Accord infringes upon the constitutional boundary of Assam. “Government of Assam has formally conveyed its protests that the Accord should not in any way harm Assam’s interest. Extension of the boundary beyond Nagaland frontier would not be tolerated under any circumstances,” he added.

Singh assured Gogoi that there is no such development taking place and that the Central government would take the State into confidence on any matters relating to the Naga Peace Accord.

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