The Mumbai Police has handed over the double murder case of well-known installation artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani to the Crime Branch, after the local police failed to make headway in the case.
On December 12 last year, Kandivali police had recovered the bodies of Hema (44) and her lawyer Harish (65) from a drain in the suburb.
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Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Atul Kulkarni yesterday handed over the case to the Unit VII of Crime Branch, a senior police official said.
So far, Hema’s husband Chintan Upadhyay and four other accused– Azad Rajbhar, Pradeep Rajbhar, Vijay Rajbhar and Shivkumar Rajbhar alias Sadhu– have been arrested in connection with the case.
However, the main accused Vidhyadhar Rajbhar is still on the run. All the arrested accused have been booked for murder, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence under the IPC, police said.
In March this year, Kandivli Police had filed a 2,000 page charge sheet against Chintan and four other accused in the case. The charge sheet comprised Call Detail Records of Chintan and the rest of the accused including absconding accused Vidyadhar Rajbhar and the messages exchanged between them, along with statements of some witnesses.
Chintan’s domestic discord with Hema and their property dispute and the maintenance demand by Hema in a family court and high court over divorce was believed to be the motive for the murder conspiracy.
The police had listed 30 witnesses in the case including absconding accused Vidyadhar’s mother who has allegedly named Chintan in her statement.
According to police, Vidyadhar’s mother has said that her son had earlier told her that Chintan had given him money to murder Hema.
Apart from Vidyadhar’s mother, police had also incorporated Hema’s servant Lalit Mandal in the list of witnesses.
In the charge sheet, the police had claimed that even the murder of Bhambhani was pre-meditated as he represented Hema in all her cases and Chintan wanted to finish them both.
Chintan, accused of conspiring to kill Hema and her lawyer was arrested on December 22. He is still behind bars.
Sleuths from Unit VII have begun the probe in the case, police said, adding the team would today discuss the way forward with JCP Atul Kulkarni.