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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Famous Indian artist & her lawyer found in a drain, naked, bound and dead

The bodies of well-known Indian artist Hema Upadhyay, 43, and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani, 65, were discovered inside cardboard boxes near a drain in Mumbai on Saturday, December 12.

The grisly discovery was reportedly made by a street cleaner who saw a leg protruding from a cardboard box in one of the city's drains. The pair are believed to have been strangled. Both victims are said to have been stripped to their underwear and their bodies had been wrapped in plastic sheets and sewn up. Mr Bhambhani had been badly beaten and his eyes were covered with tape.
Hema was estranged from her husband Chintan, also an artist, and was locked in bitter divorce proceedings with him. The Baroda-born artist had in 2013 filed a harrassment case against Chintan, alleging he painted obscene pictures of women on the walls of their matrimonial home. Bhambani represented her in the case.

One of her domestic help lodged a missing complaint with Santa Cruz police station on Saturday after she did not return home on Friday. Bhambhani's wife also filed a missing complaint with Matunga police station since he did not return home after having told them he was going to meet a client. Police questioned Mr Upadhyays's estranged husband, Chintan, her driver and domestic servants.

The Mumbai police today arrested the three persons detained earlier and booked them for murder. The fourth suspect, arrested in Varanasi yesterday, will be brought to the city soon and produced before the court and police will seek his remand.

The three suspects - Azad Rajbhar, Pradeep Rajbhar and Vijay Rajbhar were 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), Deputy Commissioner of Police Vikram Deshmane told reporters.

They are in the business of manufacturing and selling fibre glass used by Hema and her estranged husband and artist Chintan Upadhyaya for their installations. They were produced in a local court which remanded them in police custody till December 19, Deshmane said.

Refusing to divulge further details, he said investigations were on into the case. Based on the leads provided by the three during their sustained questioning, teams of Mumbai Police have been dispatched to various locations outside Maharashtra to track down and nab the key accused, Vidyadhar Rajbhar, who used to make the material required by Hema for her work.

Meanwhile, Vijay Rajbhar's wife Saroj Rajbhar, who came to Kandivali police station along with her children, claimed before mediapersons that her husband was innocent.

      "My husband is innocent. He is being falsely implicated. He was just ferrying the transport vehicle (in which the cardboard boxes stuffed with the bodies of Hema and Bhambhani were kept) and was unaware of the content in the boxes."

According to police, Vidyadhar, Sadhu and the three arrested persons allegedly killed Hema and Bhambhani on Saturdaylast. Police had earlier said the arrest of Vidyadhar, a resident of Shamsi Housing Society in suburban Kandivali, would shed light on whether the murder was a fallout of a financial dispute between him and Hema, or whether it was a contract killing with some other motive.

The police have sealed Vidyadhar's warehouse in Kandivali. According to police, on Saturday night, the day they were believed to have been killed, Vidyadhar had called Hema on her mobile at around 7.30 PM. A hunt was launched for Vidyadhar soon after detention of Sadhu by the UP Special Task Force in Varanasi yesterday following a request by Mumbai police. Sadhu had gone public with the claim that the two were killed under instructions from Vidyadhar.

The killings have shocked India's art community. The Vadehra Art Gallery, which represented Ms Upadhyay, said they had lost "one of the most talented Indian artist."

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