Investigations by the Mumbai police have pointed out that Harish Bhambani was not an unintended target in the conspiracy allegedly plotted by Chintan Upadhyay. The bodies of Bhambhani and artist Hema Upadhyay were found wrapped in plastic sheets inside cardboard cartons dumped in a sewer in Kandivali on December 12.
The police allege that Chintan knew the only person who would have pursued Hema’s murder had she been killed, would have been Harish, her lawyer.
“It was on Bhambhani’s suggestion that Hema decided to appeal in the Bombay High Court against the adverse decision of the family court which ruled in Chintan’s favour. Chintan was sure that if Hema went missing, Bhambhani would suspect him and therefore decided to kill both of them,” said an official.
The Bhambhanis saw Hema as a part of their family, according to daughter Anita. Hema was also a regular at Bhambhani’s residence in Matunga. Five persons have been arrested in connection with the double murder and a search is on for two including Vidyadhar and a ‘mediator’ whose identity has not been revealed.
“As a part of the premeditated plan, Chintan asked Vidyadhar to convince Hema that a ‘disgruntled servant’ who worked at Chintan’s Jaipur residence had collected ‘clinching evidence’ against him, which would help her in the case. Hearing this, Hema would seek advice from Bhambhani and would not meet Vidyadhar alone. Chintan was right in his assessment and Hema walked into his trap and decided to meet Vidyadhar only in presence of the lawyer. When Vidyadhar communicated this to Chintan, he was happy that his reading of her estranged wife was correct,” said the official.
“The fact that co-accused arranged for two cartons and enough plastic sheets to wrap ‘two bodies’ corroborate that the plan was to kill the two and not only Hema,” added the source.
The police, however, are trying to find why Chintan used to send cheques to Bhambhani and not Hema, when she was the litigant. “The last cheque of Rs 2 lakh was sent to Bhambhani on the day of the murder. Ordinarily he should have sent the cheque to Hema but in this case, he had sent it to Bhambhani. We are still questioning him on that front,” added the source.
The police are more or less certain that Chintan planned the murder owing to the acrimonious divorce with Hema. Chintan, arrested on Tuesday, had promised to pay the absconding accused Vidyadhar Rajbhar Rs 10-15 lakh seven days after the murder, sources added.
“While hatching the plan, Chintan promised to pay the money seven days after the murder. Vidyadhar agreed. A sum of around Rs 15 lakh was promised which included waiving off Rs 6 lakhs that Vidyadhar owed Chintan for his father’s treatment. Chintan had footed the medical bills of Vidyadhar’s father Vanshraj who was also a metal fabrication artist and used to work for Chintan around five years ago. However, Vidyadhar was never able to pay back Chintan the money,” a senior official from the Mumbai Police said.