In a major development in artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambani murder case, Uttar Pradesh’s Special Task Force sleuths have arrested two suspects from Varanasi on Monday. These two include the main suspect – Sadhu Rajbhar.
“Rajbhar had called up Hema to meet her saying that he has some evidence against her husband,” police said.
“We found about 20 debit cards on the accused when we arrested him from Varanasi. Some of them belong to Hema and Harish. He will now be handed over to the Mumbai police,” Uttar Pradesh police officer Sujay Pandey said.
Police in Mumbai have detained three others in connection with the case, including Chintan Upadhyay, Hema’s estranged husband. In 2013, Hema had filed a case of harassment against him with Harish Bhambani representing her. Chintan has been detained by the police for over 24 hours now.
According to sources, Sadhu and one of his accomplices were arrested by a UP Special Task Force (STF) team and during interrogation Sadhu allegedly confessed his role in killing a Mumbai based artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambani.
“I gagged Hema and her lawyer. There is another person named Vidya Rajbhar is involved in the crime. He asked me to kill them,” Sadhu reportedly told police in his confessional statement.
Sadhu, a metal fabrication artist, is believed to be the last person with whom Hema had spoken to before she mysteriously disappeared on Friday evening.
Replying to a question by a journalist on why he killed the artist and her lawyer, Sadhu said, “I have decided to eliminate them after being told by my seth ji (boss). He asked for my help in killing them.”
When asked to reveal the name of his boss, Sadhu said, “His name is Vidya Rajbhar.’ Vidya is absconding and it was learnt that Vidya is Sadhu’s relative and he used to work under Hema’s estranged husband Chintan.
While the motive behind the double murders is still unclear, police are still on the lookout for an individual named Gotu, the owner of the warehouse in Kandivali where Hema stored her artwork and with whom Hema allegedly had a dispute over Rs. 5 lakh.
A Mumbai Police team which is probing the double murder of installation artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani had gone to Uttar Pradesh as it suspected that the culprits must have taken shelter there.
The Baroda-born artist was estranged from her husband Chintan, also an artist, and the couple had filed for divorce in 2010.
Hema had in 2013 filed a harassment case against Chintan, alleging he painted obscene pictures of women on the walls of their matrimonial home in Mumbai. Bhambani had appeared for her in the case.
According to police, the bodies of Hema (43) and Bhambhani (65), their hands and feet tied with ropes, were recovered from a drain in suburban Kandivali on Saturday night. The bodies were stuffed in two cardboard boxes.
Their samples have been sent for chemical analysis and their autopsy reports are awaited, the senior official said.
Police have also questioned a pickup truck driver, who confirmed that he dumped the two boxes in a drain in Kandivali on Saturday afternoon thinking that it contained broken antiques.
They have recorded the statements of the watchman at Hema’s apartment in Juhu Tara Road and her domestic servant Lalit Mandal.
Friends and family members present at Hema’s funeral were still unable to come to terms with the brutal murders.
“It is just something that is so bizarre that there are no words to describe one’s feeling. She certainly has never ever expressed to me that she was scared for her life,” said Shireen Gandhy, owner of an art gallery and a friend of Hema.