Kandivli double murder: Chargesheet may be filed on Friday

Cops yet to trace the artist Hema and Bhambhani went to meet before murder.

| Mumbai | Updated: March 10, 2016 1:42:28 pm

The Kandivli police investigating the murders of artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani are likely to file the chargesheet in the case Friday, police sources said.

The investigator attached with the Kandivli police said that the over 2,000-page chargesheet has been prepared.

The chargesheet contains the statements of several key witnesses, including that of an eyewitness — an artist who works on the first floor of a workshop in Kandivli where Hema and her lawyer were allegedly murdered.

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Before they were murdered, the two had gone to meet Vidyadhar Rajbhar, a fabrication artist who ran the Kandivli workshop, as he had allegedly promised to give Hema some information regarding her divorce case with Chintan, her estranged husband.

“This artist (the eyewitness) was not present at the workshop on the night of December 11, when the murders took place, but clearly remembers meeting Vidhyadhar next morning and noticing scratches on his face. When he enquired about the marks, Vidhyadhar is believed to have told him to mind his own business,” the investigator said.

The bodies of Hema and Bhambhani were found wrapped in plastic and dumped in a drain in Kandivli West.

The material found at the scene of crime had led the police to Vidhyadhar’s workshop.

“After questioning the eyewitness, we believe that he was not part of the murder conspiracy. He was later taken to Uttar Pradesh (UP)to help identify Vidyadhar’s co-accused Shivkumar, when he was apprehended by the local UP police,” the investigator added.

According to the police, Vidyadhar left Mumbai with Shivkumar but parted ways with him at Itrarsi in Madhya Pradesh.

The police initially arrested four men, three of whom worked at Vidyadhar’s workshop, for the murder before Chintan was arrested on December 22.

The officers, however, did not confirm whether the statement of Chintan’s Hungarian artist friend Istvan was recorded. Istvan is believed to have travelled with Chintan to Delhi after an art show in Gujarat days before the murder, hence disproving the theory that Chintan met Vidhyadhar at a Chembur hotel.

Chintan is currently in jail as his bail plea was rejected last week.

The police had also informed a Dindoshi court about the final cause of the deaths. The police stated in their reply that the doctors at J J Hospital have concluded that Hema and Bhambhani had died of “asphyxia due to smothering.” And that, the chloroform found at the crime scene had been used to weaken them so that they do not resist the murder attempts.

The police have said that they have even attached divorce documents related to the strained relationship between Hema and Chintan as the police believe the divorce to be one of the primary motives behind Chintan killing Hema and her lawyer.

Meanwhile, the crime branch, which has been simultaneously probing the double murder, has been on the lookout for Vidhyadhar, who has been on the run for about three months.

About a fortnight ago, a team of crime branch sleuths returned “empty handed” after having camped in Chennai and Coimbatore. The crime branch had been tracking phone calls made to Vidhyadhar’s family.

“Towards the end of December, an uncle in Surat had received a brief phone call from Vidhyadhar. We had traced the call to a public telephone booth in Chennai,” said a senior officer.

A team was sent to Chennai and the owner of the phone booth confirmed the identity of Vidyadhar, but claimed that he used the phone only once.

“We learnt from the artist community that Vidhyadhar, in order to survive, could find work in south India and we had zeroed in on Coimbatore as it has a lot of artists who deal in the same kind of art as Vidhyadhar. There are people in Coimbatore who also confirmed that they saw Vidhyadhar,” the officer said.

However, after a 20-day-long trip, the crime branch sleuths were unable to track Vidhyadhar and claim that he has changed his appearance to evade arrest.

mumbai.newsline@expressindia.com

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