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Hema’s kin suspect Chintan’s ‘role’ in double murder

File photo of artist Hema Upadhyay

Mumbai : The family members of artist Hema Upadhyay, who was killed along with her lawyer last week, suspect the role of her estranged husband Chintan Upadhyaya in the double murder and want the police to probe it.

The deceased artist’s cousin brother Deepak Prasad told mediapersons here yesterday that he and his other family members “strongly suspect Chintan’s role behind the conspiracy to kill Hema and her 65-year-old lawyer Harish Bhambhani”.

Prasad also said that the motive, as cited, of the prime accused Vidhyadhar Rajbhar and his men to kill Hema and her lawyer for Rs five lakh was not true, as she had financially helped Vidhyadhar in the past and never asked him to return her money.

He also alleged that some years back, Chintan had threatened Hema that he would kill her and could go to any extent to do that.

Meanwhile, a senior police officer, who is probing the case, told PTI today that, “When a body is recovered and identified, police immediately take the statements of the deceased’s relatives to get their version.”

“In this case too, we had taken the statements of the deceased’s relatives. Hema’s relatives have accused Chintan of hatching the conspiracy to kill her,” he said.

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

The deceased artist’s husband still remains a “suspect” in the case, he said, adding the motive behind the murder is yet to become clear.

However, without proper evidence, police cannot arrest anyone based on mere allegations, he further stated.

Only after the arrest of the Vidhyadhar, who is on the run, the police could get a clear picture about involvement of Chintan, if any, the officer said.

He also said that Hema’s relatives were trying to build pressure on the investigating team by approaching the media and expressing their views which they have already mentioned in the statements given to police.

Bodies of noted installation artist Hema (43) and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani wrapped in plastic and packed in separate cardboard boxes were found dumped in a drain in suburban Kandivali on December 12.

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

Except Sadhu, who was nabbed from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on Monday, the remaining three were picked up from Kandivali on Sunday.

Three of the accused –Azad, Pradeep and Vijay– were placed under arrest on Tuesday after being booked under IPC sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).

The three, who are in police custody till tomorrow, are in the business of manufacturing and selling fibre glass used by Hema and Chintan for their installations.

Sadhu was earlier remanded in police custody till December 22.

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

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