Panic gripped on Sunday after a double murder case came to the fore. In a shocking incident, the bodies of artist Hema Updhayay and her lawyer Harsh Bhambani were found in a drain in Kandivali on Saturday night. The bodies of artist-lawyer duo were discovered in cardboard boxes lying in a drain.
The two were reported missing since Friday. The bodies — bearing injuries, hands and feet tied, wrapped in plastic sheets and packed tight in cardboard boxes.
The bodies of Hema (43) and Bhambhani (65), their hands and feet tied with ropes, were recovered from near a drain in Kandivali last night, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a police officer involved in the probe said the bodies were in “semi-naked” condition.
“Police have not detained anybody yet and are only making inquiry. Police are quizzing those people who were in touch with Hema and her lawyer,” added Kulkarni. An earlier report attributed to police had said three persons had been detained.
Hema Updhayay’s estranged husband artist Chintan Upadhyay is being examined as a suspect against whom she had filed a harassment case — and her domestic helps. He was picked up on suspicion and for giving contradictory statements to the cops about his locations in last three days. The couple got married in 1998 and filed for divorce in 2010. Harsh Bhambani, 65, was representing her in the case.
On Saturday evening, a sweeper noticed two boxes in a drain next to a crematorium in the Dhanukar wadi area. He immediately alerted the Kandivali police station and later the bodies have been identified as those of well-known artist Hema and her lawyer Harish.
The bodies were found stuffed in cardboard boxes, and preliminary inquiry suggests that they were strangulated. The bodies were found in a decapitated state.
So far, four persons including her estranged husband have been detained for the murder.
Hema was going through bitter times. In 2013, she had filed a case of harassment against her estranged husband. Then, Bhambhani had represented her case and now sources said that her husband is being examined as a suspect in the double murder case.
Further probe revealed that Bhambhani told his family on last Friday around 6.30 pm that he is going to meet his client in Andheri and Hema had asked her servant not to cook dinner as she was planning to have dinner outside.
“It seems that the lawyer, whose car is still missing, met Hema on Friday evening. There are many leads which we are getting in the case and hopeful to solve it soon,” Police sources said.
Mumbai Police has launched a manhunt to get to the bottom of the matter. Three persons have been detained in connection with the case.
According to some reports, a domestic help of Hema had lodged a missing complaint with Santa Cruz police station yesterday after she did not return home all Friday. The family of Bhambhani had also filed a missing complaint with Antop Hill police station since he did not return home after having told them he was going to meet a client.
DCP Zone 11, Vickram Deshmane, who is probing the case, refused to confirm whether Hema’s domestic help or Bhambani’s family had registered missing complaints.
A well-known artist, Ms Upadhyay had won awards from the Gujarat Lalit Kala Academy and the national Lalit Kala Academy.
She used photography and sculptural installations to explore personal identity, dislocation, nostalgia and gender.
Her works have been displayed at various international exhibitions — in China, Australia, France, Israel and Japan.