Hours before she was killed, the artist Hema Upadhyay hurriedly removed a board bearing her name from outside her office and warned her assistant to be very careful and let no one inside. She then drove away to meet her lawyer Harish Bhambhani, the police have quoted the assistant as saying in the chargesheet filed in the double murder case of Hema and Bhambani.
The assistant, whose statement is part of the nearly 1,700-page chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police last week, has stated that at 17.40 pm on December 11, 2015, Hema was visibly scared after receiving a phone call.
“When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that a a man working for Chintan had called and told her that anything could happen and warned her to be on her guard,” the statement reads.The witness, who has been working at Hema’s studio for a few years, added that Hema also warned him to be careful and instructed him not to let anyone enter the studio. Hema said that she would call him before coming to the studio, and that he should open the door only then.
“She removed a name plate that hung over the studio’s entrance that spelled her name in English, so that no one would find out where it was,” the witness added.
According to the chargesheet, Hema changed into dark clothes and left the studio in her car. The witness added that he did not go to the studio for the next two days and that he was informed about the murders by a relative.
Hema, the witness added, confided in him that Chintan had uncharacteristically chosen to stay at her Santacruz home during his visit to Mumbai in the first week of December 2015. The witness claimed that Hema was worried about his stay, as Chintan would often return home late in the night under the influence of alcohol and ring the bell in spite of having the door keys.
“Hema told me that on December 8, 2015, Chintan said bye to her three times while leaving Mumbai. She said that she was very surprised about that,” the witness said.
The chargesheet also adds in the days preceding the murder, Chintan was at the Palladium Hotel in Lower Parel even though his friends claimed that he as in Chembur.
The statement of Hema’s servant, Lalit Mandal, says Chintan called him at 10 am on December 12 and asked if Hema had come home. On that day, Chintan called Lalit 3-4 times to ask about Hema.
The murder conspiracy, according to the chargesheet, was carried out with prior planning and care was taken that no evidence was left behind at the workshop where the crime look place. The Rajbhar cousins, the police claim in the chargesheet, committed the murders out of greed.
The police has examined 146 witnesses, of which all but 78 are either police officers or panchanama witnesses.
The police has also listed the possessions of Chintan that they seized from Hema’s house in Santacruz. These include four canvas paper sketches, eight sketch books and diaries and 74 artworks.
The police also seized Chintan’s iPad, three hard disks, two memory cards and a pen drive.