Free Press Journal

Double murder case: 4th suspect detained in Varanasi


Mumbai: Mumbai police today detained a key suspect from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh in connection with the double murder case of well-known installation artist Hema Upadhyaya and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani on the basis of information provided by three already under detention since yesterday.

The suspect, identified as Shivkumar Rajbhar alias Sadhu, was tracked down and detained by a Mumbai police team which had rushed to the temple town yesterday following inputs that the culprits might have fled to Uttar Pradesh. “We haven not arrested but detained Shivkumar Rajbhar alias Sadhu in Varanasi,” Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti told PTI.

Police had yesterday detained Azad Rajbhar, Pradeep Rajbhar and Vijay Rajbhar in Mumbai in connection with the sensational twin-murder. Based on information provided by the trio, the police detained Sadhu, who is suspected to have played a key role in the murder of the artist and her lawyer, police said. Three detained from Mumbai are in the business of manufacturing and selling fibre glass, which was used by Hema and her estranged husband Chintan Upadhyaya, also an artist, for their installations, said an officer privy to details of the probe. Those detained had known Chintan for the last few years.

One among them had called up Hema on her mobile phone before her murder, police said. The bodies of Hema (43) and Bhambhani (65), their hands and feet tied with ropes, were recovered stuffed in cardboard boxes from a drain in suburban Kandivali on Saturday following which police were called in.

Their body samples have been sent for chemical analysis and autopsy reports are awaited, a senior police officer said. “As per our probe their bodies (in boxes) were transported in a tempo from suburban Juhu to Kandivali (W),” DCP (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni said.

Police have also quizzed the driver of the vehicle who dumped the boxes in the drain thinking they contained brokenantiques. The statement of the transporter has been recorded, police said. Earlier, the police had on Saturday recorded the statement of the watchman at Hema’s apartment on Juhu Tara Road and her domestic servant Lalit Mandal.

Hema’s husband Chintan, who was in Delhi and arrived in the city yesterday, was also questioned by the Crime Branch. The Baroda-born artist, who was locked in bitter divorce proceedings with her husband, had in 2013 filed a case against Chintan, alleging he painted obscene pictures of women on the walls of their matrimonial home in Mumbai to harass her. Bhambani had represented Hema in the case.