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Double murders: Hema’s husband arrested,sent to police custody

File photo of artist Chintan Upadhyay

Mumbai : Chintan Upadhyay, estranged husband of artist Hema Upadhyay, was today arrested in the double murder case of his wife and her lawyer in suburban Kandivali here and sent to police custody till January 1 by a Mumbai court.

According to police, Chintan, also an artist, was the “prime suspect” in the murder case of Hema (43) and her lawyer Harish Bhambani (65) and wanted him to be interrogated further to clearly establish the motive behind the crime.

He was arrested earlier in the day after sustained grilling by police which found inconsistency in his statements, Additional CP (North) Fatesingh Patil said.

Seeking his remand,police told Magistrate Prasad Kulkarni that since the motive of the crime was still not clear, they want to further interrogate Chintan and take him to places outside the state as part of the investigation.

During questioning, Chintan said that he had met the absconding accused Vidyadhar Rajbhar at an undisclosed location and hatched a conspiracy to kill the duo, the court was told.

“Chintan conspired and took the help of other accused in committing the murder,” police said.

Police also said that the crime was the offshoot of the cases pending between the sparring couple.

Hema, a Baroda-born installation artist, was locked in bitter divorce proceedings with Chintan. She had in 2013 filed a case against him alleging that he painted obscene pictures of women on the walls of their matrimonial home in Mumbai to harass her. Harish had represented Hema in this case.

In the remand application, police also said that Vidyadhar, who is still at large, played a very important role in the crime and was in constant touch with Chintan.

Police told the court they might even have to take Chintan to other states for further investigation.

According to police, Chintan was under the scanner after bodies of noted installation artist and her lawyer, wrapped in plastic and packed in separate cardboard boxes were found dumped in a drain in Kandivali on December 12.

Based on the statements of Hema’s relatives, Chintan was constantly grilled for days by police officers in connection with the twin murders.

Besides Chintan, the police have arrested four persons in the case — Azad Rajbhar, Pradeep Rajbhar, Vijay Rajbhar and Shivkumar Rajbhar alias Sadhu — and have booked them for murder and causing disappearance of evidence.

The police custody of the four accused was today extended till December 28.

Except Sadhu, who was nabbed from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the remaining three — who are in the business of manufacturing and selling fibre glass used by Hema and Chintan for their installations — were picked up from Kandivali.

Based on leads provided by the accused during their questioning, teams of Mumbai Police are still searching locations in and outside Maharashtra to nab Vidyadhar, who used to make the material required by Hema for her work.

Police had previously said that the arrest of Vidyadhar, a resident of Shamsi Housing Society in Kandivali, would shed light if the murder was a fallout of a financial dispute between him and Hema, or whether it was a contract killing allegedly involving some other motive.

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