Two bodies found in Kandivli on Saturday identified as those of celebrated artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer.

Hema Upadhyay

PTI
The two bodies that were found in Kandivli (W) on Saturday have been identified as those of artist Hema Upadhyay (43) and her lawyer Harish Bhambani (65). Hema was involved in an acrimonious divorce battle with Chintan Upadhyay, a celebrated name in the art world, in the Bombay High Court. The bodies were found in two gunny bags inside two cardboard boxes in a drain near Dhanukarwadi around 7:30 pm on Saturday. On Sunday, the Mumbai police detained three people and questioned Chintan for over six hours. Sources in the Mumbai police told dna that a fourth suspect, a metal fabrication artist called Rajbhar, could turn out to be the key suspect. The police are on the look-out for him.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> According to sources, Rajbhar is believed to have called Hema, claiming that he has clinching evidences against Chintan, which would help her in the divorce case. “We learn that Rajbhar wanted to meet Hema to hand over some proof against Chintan. Hema then asked Bhambani to accompany her. It seems that they were murdered after they reached the place where Rajbhar was waiting,” said a source.”It looks like that the idea was to kill Hema, but as Bhambani was accompanying her, he became a collateral damage,” he said. The bodies were first spotted by some local sweepers. When they found something amiss, they informed the police. When the boxes were opened, the police found two bodies – one of a male and the other of a female – wrapped in plastic sheets. “Initially, the identity of the bodies could not be ascertained as the murderers did not leave any personal possessions of the victims. Their cellphones, wallets and jewellery were missing,” said an officer from the Kandivli police station. “Bhambani’s hands were tied and his mouth was gagged with a cloth and had a cello tape on it. Hema’s body was just wrapped in a plastic sheet,” he said. The identities of the bodies were ascertained on Sunday. “Both of them were strangulated to death and there are no external injury marks on the bodies,” said an officer. “We have sent the bodies for autopsy,” he said. An officer privy to the investigation said that before leaving his residence in King’s Circle around 6:30 pm on Friday, Bhambani had told his family that he has a meeting with a client in Andheri. Hema left her residence in Juhu on Friday morning and headed straight to her studio in Laxmi Industries off Veer Desai Road in Andheri (West). Around 6:30 pm, Hema made a call to her help, Hemant Mandal, asking him not to expect her for dinner. “The CCTV footage collected from the area of Laxmi Industries Estate establish that both Hema and Bhambani left the studio around 8:30 pm in the lawyer’s Honda City,” said an officer. “Their last cellphone tower location was in the Kandivli area. We have not yet recovered the missing car”. When Hema did not turn up home on Friday night, Mandal made several calls to her. When she did not answer, he approached the Santa Cruz police station and registered a missing complaint on the wee hours of Sunday. Even Bhambani’s family registered a missing complaint with the Matunga police station. As the Kandivli police launched an investigation into the double murder, the Mumbai crime branch also started a parallel investigation. Hema had filed for divorce in 2010, citing domestic violence. The family court had passed a decree in favour of Chintan. But Hema challenged it in the Bombay High Court and Bhambani was representing her. The celebrated artist-couple were in the news in 2013, when Hema filed a criminal case against Chintan for sketching obscene paintings on the wall of their bedroom. “Prima facie, personal enmity seems to be the reason behind the murder but investigations are still on and we are checking for further leads,” the police said.

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