Double murder case: 3 detained; Mumbai police leaves for UP

Double murder case: 3 detained; Mumbai police leaves for UP

Three suspects have been detained in connection with the double murder case of well-known painter Hema Upadhaya and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani here even as a team from Mumbai police left for Uttar Pradesh based on inputs that the culprits may have fled to the state.

The trio, identified as Azad Rajbhor, Pradeep Rajbhor and Vijay Rajhbor were detained yesterday from the city, a senior police officer told PTI today. They are in the business of manufacturing and selling fibre glass, which was used by Hema and her husband Chintan Upadhyaya for their installations, said the officer, privy to details of the probe.

The interrogation of the detainees is still underway, the officer said. They knew Chintan for the last few years, as he is also a painter, and used to order the fibre glasses for his paintings, said police sources.

One among them had called Hema on her mobile phone before her murder on Saturday, police said. Meanwhile, a team of Mumbai Police has gone to Uttar Pradesh as they suspect that the culprits must have fled to that state and taken shelter there.

According to police, bodies of Hema (43) and Bhambhani (65), with their hands and feet tied with ropes, were recovered from a drain in suburban Kandivali on Saturday night after locals and a ragpicker first spotted two card board boxes (in which the bodies were stuffed) and informed cops.

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

In this connection, police have also quizzed the transporter, who confirmed that he dumped the two boxes in a nullah in Kandivali on Saturday afternoon thinking that it contained broken antiques.

The statement of the transporter has been recorded, they said. Also, police on Saturday recorded the statement of the watchman at Hema's apartment in Juhu Tara Road and her domestic servant Lalit Mandal.

Besides, Hema's husband Chintan, who was in Delhi and arrived in the city yesterday, was questioned by the Crime Branch.  According to police, Hema's domestic help had filed a missing complaint at Santacruz police station on Saturday. Bhambhani's younger daughter Anita had also filed a similar complaint at Matunga police station the same day.

Hema and her lawyer had been missing since Friday evening, said police adding the watchman of Hema had last seen her on Friday at 11 AM. Whereas according to Anita, at around 6.30 PM on Friday, Bhambhani had left his King Circle home in Matunga to meet Hema.

As per police, Bhambhani met Hema at her art studio in Andheri at around 8.30 PM (on Friday). Then he had a word with his wife on phone, after which the Bhambhani family couldn't speak with the latter despite calling him frantically several times.

Police suspect that an unidentified person, but known to the duo, had called the lawyer to give fresh evidence in a property dispute case of Hema. They also strongly suspect that the duo were smothered by the killer/s.

Meanwhile, Additional Commissioner of Police (North Region) Fatehsingh Patil claimed that his team is very close to cracking the case but did not divulge anything further. Police said Bhambhani's car, in which he had left for the meeting, is still to be traced.

The Baroda born artist 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.

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