Less than a fortnight before artist Hema Upadhayay and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani were murdered, Hema’s estranged husband Chintan Upadhayay allegedly met absconding accused Vidyadhar Rajbhar in Jaipur, police have found. The meeting allegedly took place at the house of Chintan’s parents, and the investigators are calling the timing suspicious.
“After the meeting, Chintan came to Mumbai, but Vidyadhar stayed on. Vidyadhar then contacted Hema from Jaipur and told her about a servant who had videos of Chintan. Later, Vidyadhar came to Mumbai when Chintan had left the city. This has raised several doubts,” alleged a police source.
The officer said Chintan’s father, Vidyasagar Upadhyay, would be called to Mumbai to ascertain the purpose of the meeting between Chintan and Vidyadhar in Jaipur.
Meanwhile, Bhambhani’s wife Poonam has told investigators that around December 1, when Chintan was visiting Mumbai and staying at the Juhu residence he shared with Hema, he allegedly drew a caricature of a woman on a piece of paper with the words, ‘I will destroy you’, written on it. Poonam has told the police that Hema informed Bhambhani about this, and had sent him a photo of it on WhatsApp.
However, the police said, the cellphones of both Hema and Bhambhani were yet to be traced.
Based on Poonam’s statement that Hema spotted a microphone in Chintan’s room, under his sofa, the police are now also investigating if the Juhu apartment had been bugged.
According to Poonam, Hema made this discovery when Chintan was not at home, and had immediately called Bhambhani to update him.
“My husband received the picture via WhatsApp and later went to the house to check on the microphone himself,” her statement reads. A senior police officer told The Indian Express that the police would corroborate each allegation.
Though estranged, Hema and Chintan were sharing the Juhu house, with Chintan occupying a room.
“We searched the respective houses of the victims the day the bodies were identified on December 12. However, we have not found any caricature or microphone from the Juhu house. We are still in the process of gathering evidence and speaking to every witness to corroborate the statements recorded with us on December 15,” said the officer.
On Sunday afternoon, the Kandivali police recorded the statement of Hema’s domestic help Hemant Mandal for the second time.
Despite several attempts, Chintan could not be reached for a comment. His lawyer Mrinalini Deshmukh said, “If at all they (Chintan and Vidyadhar) met in Jaipur, it was only during the time of the art fest.”
Deshmukh said she was not aware of any caricature or microphone being linked to Chintan during the course of the police investigation.
Police sources said it was clear that the Bhambhanis were regularly updated about Hema’s case. Hema reportedly visited the Bhambhanis’ home in Matunga on at least three occasions in December — on 3rd, 9th and 10th. She had told the Bhambhanis that Chintan’s latest stay in their Juhu home, for about a week, was longer than usual.
Meanwhile, forensic teams that inspected Bhambhani’s Honda City found two days ago said the car bore no signs of struggle. Bhambhani had driven the car on the day of the crime. He had told his wife that he was not to be called as he was headed for an important meeting.