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What is the motive behind Hema and Lawyer’s murders?

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These days, Mumbai crime rate has gone high with rapes, murders, molestations, robbery is now every day incidences. Sheena Bohra murder case is yet to be solved by city police and now two bodies were found in a sewage drain in Kandivali, Two rectangular cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic were seen floating in the drain by some residents, who called the police. The boxes were found to contain two bodies, in which one is male whereas other of a female. Both were identified as noted artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani. The police have registered a complaint of murder and destruction of evidence against unknown persons, and they also questioned her ex-husband Chintan, also a famous artist, as well as three or four locals, picked up on suspicion. Today, police has arrested Chintan Upadhyay who is also a noted artist.

Based on separate missing person complaints filed at the Matunga and the Santacruz police stations, police identified Hema and Harish. There were no external injuries on the bodies. Police officers who are part of the investigating team told media that Harish left his Matunga residence on Friday evening, telling his family that he was going to meet a client. His daughter called him at around 8.30 p.m. to ask him when he was coming home, and he told her that he was at an important meeting with a client and should not be disturbed. That was the last conversation he had with his family. When subsequent attempts to reach him failed, his daughter registered a missing person’s complaint with the Matunga police. Meanwhile, Hema left her Juhu residence on same Friday evening, only telling her servant that she was going out for some work.

Surprisingly, Vidyadhar Rajbhar prime accused in the case went to Hema’s office to ask her phone number. This was not making any sense; if she had working relation with Vidyadhar then he should hane her number. Besides, Vidyadhar could have got the phone number from Chintan. Why would Vidyadhar publicly appear before the murder in her office? It’s like; he wanted to get caught deliberately. If Chintan is involved directly, would he plan to make this look so retarded? Hema had filed for divorce from Upadhyay in 2010. Harish was representing her, while her husband was represented by advocate Niteen Pradhan. The couple was officially divorced in 2014. The divorce battle was dotted with bitter allegations and counter allegations, with Hema filing an application in 2013 alleging that Upadhyay was trying to harass her by drawing obscene paintings on the walls of their Juhu residence. Hema and Chintan were at the time staying in the same house but in different rooms.

Then the matter was ultimately went to the Supreme Court, and was dismissed on the grounds that Chintan’s bedroom was his personal space, then Hema had filed an application seeking alimony, which was scheduled for hearing next year.

Police said that the accused tied Bhambhani and wound duct tape over his mouth and eyes. When they realised that she was dead, they used the same chloroform-soaked cloth to kill Bhambhani, and then took help of the other three accused to dispose of the bodies. One week after the murder, a new angle emerged in the investigation. Vidyadhar Rajbhar had offered to spy on Hema’s estranged husband Chintan, and things went awry when he refused to give any evidence unless she paid him.

Hema’s family members had earlier accused Chintan for killing her. They demanded that Chintan’s name should be added in the FIR as the prime accused. And finally Chintan got arrested by Mumbai police. Upadhyay was sent to police custody till January 1 by the Borivali metropolitan magistrate later in the day. Besides Chintan, the police have arrested four persons in the case – Azad Rajbhar, Pradeep Rajbhar and two others.

Mumbai police suspect that Chintan could be linked to the plot to lure his wife with a video which his Jaipur-based domestic claimed to have made. Hema and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani were killed when they went to watch the clip which was offered to her by Vidyadhar Rajbhar, the prime accused who is now absconding. Police believe the clip was just a trap and did not exist. Chintan was awarded the Charles Wallace Foundation Award for Residency in Bristol, UK in 2012. The artist began as a painter, but now creates sculptures and installations of which he paints the surface. His most popular sculpture project is perhaps the Pet Shop project, which is an ongoing production of a “model baby” for every season. He also run Sandarbh, a nonprofit organization set up for residencies, workshops, programs, and dedicated to promoting the arts and raising awareness about contemporary artistic practices in rural areas of India. It’s a radical experiment that brings artists from India and the world to a small village called Partapur, Rajasthan. With one murder mystery, one artist lost her life and other languishing in jail. However, motive of the killing is yet not clearly established by the police. I hope, this murder saga will not be stretched like Indrani Mukherjea’s case.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for past 16 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs. Besides journalism, she is also an Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author.
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