The Mumbai police tonight hunted for Vidyasagar Rajbhar, who they identified as the “main accused” in the double murder of installation artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer, two days after their bodies were found in a drain packed in cardboard boxes.
The investigators zeroed in on Vidyasagar as the main culprit following sustained questioning of the four persons detained in connection with the murders of Hema Upadhyay (43) and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani (65).
“The questioning of the four detainees, including the one held today in Varanasi, led to the information that the murder took place at the behest of a person called Vidyasagar Rajbhar,” a senior police officer, who is part of the probe team, said.
Police have now launched a manhunt for Vidyasagar, who is a resident of Shamsi Housing Society in suburban Kandivali (West), he said.
On Saturday night, the day they were believed to have been killed, it was Vidyasagar who had called Hema on her mobile at 7.30 pm, the officer said.
Vidyasagar’s arrest will help the police join the missing dots, he added.
Shivkumar Rajbhar alias Sadhu, who was today detained by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force in Varanasi following a request by the Mumbai police, went public with the claim that the two were killed under instructions from Vidyasagar.
“We killed them under orders of Vidya,” he told a TV channel while seated in a police vehicle upon his detention. Asked how the killings were executed, he said,”We used handkerchiefs soaked in a chemical.”
Earlier in the day, a team of Mumbai police and UP STF picked up Shivkumar following the questioning of Azad Rajbhar, Pradeep Rajbhar and Vijay Rajbhar, who were detained in Mumbai yesterday.
The three men detained from Mumbai are in the business of manufacturing-selling fibre glass, which was used by Hema and her estranged husband Chintan Upadhyaya, also an artist, for their installations, said a police source.
The bodies of Hema Upadhyaya and Bhambhani, their hands and feet tied with ropes, were recovered stuffed in cardboard boxes from a drain in Kandivali on Saturday.
“The bodies were transported in a tempo from suburban Juhu to Kandivali,” DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni said. Police have also recorded statement of the transporter who dumped the boxes in the drain and who was apparently under the impression that the boxes contained broken antiques.
Hema’s husband Chintan who was in Delhi and arrived in the city yesterday was also questioned by the Crime Branch.
Hema, a Baroda-born artist, was locked in a bitter divorce proceedings with her husband and had in 2013 filed a case against him alleging that he painted obscene pictures of women on the walls of their matrimonial home in Mumbai to harass her. Bhambhani had represented Hema in this case.
Hema’s domestic help had filed a missing complaint at Santacruz police station on Saturday after she did not return home. Bhambhani’s younger daughter Anita had also filed a complaint at Matunga police station the same day.
Hema was last seen by the watchman of her apartment building at 11 am on Friday. According to Anita, Bhambhani had left his Kings Circle home to meet Hema at 6.30 pm on Friday.
Investigators said Bhambhani met Hema at her art studio in Andheri around 8.30 pm on Friday before talking to his wife on phone. Thereafter the Bhambhani family could not establish contact with him despite calling him several times.