Crime Branch sources said they had not found any connection between Chintan Upadhyay and the murder of his wife Hema and her lawyer
Contemporary artist Chintan Upadhyay — who has been detained by Mumbai Police since Saturday in connection with the murder of his estranged wife, Hema, and her lawyer, Harish Bhambhani — will likely be given a clean chit as soon as they find the main accused, Vidyadhar Rajbhar, who owns the art warehouse where the victims were killed.
The artist couple, Chintan and Hema had filed for divorce in 2010, but were still on good terms, said the cops. Sources said the police were now leaning towards the theory that the murders took place over a monetary dispute.
“He has been with us since he came from Delhi to Mumbai on Saturday morning. He has been cooperating with us, and since day one, has been telling us that he and Hema were on good terms despite their separation. They would even meet every time he was in Mumbai,” said a Crime Branch officer.
Hema Upadhyay and Chintan
mid-day was the first to report that Hema and Harish had likely been killed during a dispute over Rs 5 lakh. This theory has since been supported by other factors that have come up in the investigation, such as the fact that the main accused, Vidyadhar, urgently needed money to pay off his debts.
“Chintan has maintained that he is innocent, and our investigations have also shown that the double murders were because of non-payment of dues. We have found some witnesses who said that Vidyadhar had been calling Hema regularly for a few days to ask for the payment, but Hema was not willing to pay up,” said the officer.
According to the cops, while Vidyadhar said Hema owed him Rs 5 lakh, she argued that the amount was smaller. The day before the murder, they had had an argument, which might have led to him planning to teach her a lesson, said sources. On Friday, when Hema went to his warehouse in Kandivli, they fought once again, and she slapped him. This pushed Vidyadhar over the edge, and he killed her and her lawyer.
“What Chintan has been telling us is that Hema was very abusive in nature, and closefisted when it came to money. We have also learnt about her arguments with taxi drivers and other people who were close to her,” said the officer.Vidyadhar’s worker and co-accused, Shivkumar Rajbhar (aka Sadhu), who was arrested in Varanasi, also told the police that Hema was murdered after an argument about Rs 5 lakh.
The cops said they are now very close to apprehending Vidyadhar, and since they have him in their grasp, they will release Chintan. “We will keep Chintan with us until we get the main accused, Vidhyadhar, in our custody. Presently, we don’t suspect that Chintan had any role in the crime. We have questioned Chintan about his calls with Vidyadhar and he has explained that the calls were routine and had nothing to do with murder at all,” aid one of the investigating cops.