Mumbai Police on Tuesday arrested three more persons in connection with the murder of artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani.
On Monday, the police had arrested Shivkumar alias Sadhu Rajbhar in a joint operation with the UP Special Task Force from his village in Varanasi.
The three arrested Tuesday are Vijay Rajbhar, Pradeep Rajbhar and Azad Rajbhar. While Pradeep and Azad worked at the studio of absconding accused Vidyadhar Rajbhar, Vijay drove a tempo for a living. The Borivali Metropolitan Magistrate Court remanded the three in police custody until December 19.
Vidyadhar used to make the material required by Hema for her work. The artist allegedly owed him Rs 5 lakh.
The bodies of Hema and Bhambhani were found in cartons in a drain here December 12.
Interrogation of Shivkumar revealed that his employer Vidyadhar was heavily in debt and was desperate for money. “The creditors used to turn up regularly at his suburban residence,” a source said.
Hoping that Hema would pay him, Vidyadhar had visited her residence on many occasions. “There were times when Hema abused Vidyadhar when he insisted on payment and refused to leave her apartment,” the source added.
Meanwhile, for the third day in row, Hema’s estranged husband Chintan, a contemporary artist, was questioned by police. Interrogation revealed that he too knew Vidyadhar.
“Vidyadhar’s father admired Chintan’s father and named his son after him. The families shared a close relationship. A couple of years ago, when Vidyadhar’s father fell ill, Chintan footed his medical expenses of over Rs 5 lakh and Vidyadhar has not repaid him so far,” the source said. “Once we get Vidyadhar, it will be clear if Chintan has any role (in the murders).”
Hema had filed an appeal against a divorce order passed by the family court and was seeking alimony too from Chintan.
One of the arrested accused told police that since Hema refused to clear the dues, Vidyadhar called her to Kandivali as part of a plan. Investigators believe Hema was called there on the pretext of giving information about her litigation against Chintan. Hema agreed to meet him with her lawyer. But when Hema sought information, Vidyadhar started making excuses. The two had a verbal duel which escalated into a physical row. The accused told police that they used chloroform on Hema and Harish to make them unconscious.