Watch Video: Accused confesses to smothering Hema, Harish

Arrested in Varanasi yesterday, the accused confessed his role in the murder to UP Police; forensic evidence so far corroborates his statement

“We gagged them with a handkerchief laced with a chemical to knock them out. We had to smother one of them who was still gasping for breath, and then everything was over,” was the clinching confession made by one of the accused in the Hema Upadhyay-Harish Bhambhani double murder.

Shivkumar Rajbhar was one of the workers at the Kandivli art warehouse
Shivkumar Rajbhar was one of the workers at the Kandivli art warehouse

This statement, made by the accused, Shivkumar Rajbhar (22), also known as Sadhu, is corroborated by the preliminary post-mortem evidence recorded so far at Bhagwati Post-mortem centre in Borivli. The evidence suggests the deceased were smothered.

Shivkumar was apprehended in Varanasi by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (UPSTF) and was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate there on Monday evening. He was shown arrested for murder, conspiracy and destruction of evidence. The Kandivli police have been granted three days of transit remand so they can bring him to Mumbai for investigation.

According to Inspector (UPSTF, Varanasi) Bipin Rai, “During interrogation, the accused confessed to the crime and admitted that four others were involved in the murder. As the case is registered with Mumbai Police, we will hand over the accused to them. The investigating police team will corroborate the claims made by Shivkumar with other evidence, including post-mortem reports.”

According to Shivkumar’s confession, on Friday evening, after Hema Upadhyay (43) and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani (65) entered the art warehouse in Kandivli, a heated argument erupted between her and the warehouse owner, Vidyadhar Rajbhar. As they fought over a Rs 5 lakh dispute, Hema’s lawyer, Harish, was justifying her position. This increased the tension and the killers decide to teach them a lesson.

Cause of death
“The forensic surgeon will provide the exact cause of death, after the reports for blood, hair swabs and chemical analysis of the viscera come from the Forensic Science Laboratory in Kalina,” said police surgeon Dr S M Patil. An examination of the bodies revealed several injuries that indicated they had been smothered (see ‘Injuries’).

Harish’s body, particularly, had several contusions that suggest additional force was used to subdue him. “The injuries were ante mortem (before death),” added Dr Patil, who also ruled out that the victims may have died due to drowning in the drain.

Finding Shivkumar
As the local police in Varanasi had little other to go on than a description of the accused and his phone number, they used mobile surveillance to track him down.

Speaking to mid-day from Lucknow, Senior Superinten-dent of Police (STF) Amit Phatak said, “We had received specific information from our Mumbai counterparts on Sunday evening. Mobile surveillance showed that he was going towards Lucknow. We decided to carry out a combing operation inside two to three long-distance trains that were coming from Mumbai. However, that was not of much help, as almost all passengers had covered themselves with blankets and shawls due to the cold.”

They finally made a breakthrough yesterday, when they noticed his location had changed to a village in the UP. “On Monday afternoon, the mobile network showed the suspect was somewhere close to his village at Kavirampur, and he was finally apprehended from a place called Baragaon Tiraha,” Phatak added. “Inquiries revealed that the suspect was working in Mumbai for last four years at the same godown, and was making fibre statutes,” said Inspector Rai.

The cops also recovered numerous ATM cards, health and shopping cards belonging to Hema and 5 ATM and gymkhana cards belonging to Harish. Upon further inquiry, the UPSTF learnt that another accused (name withheld), who had accompanied Shivkumar from the crime scene in Mumbai, had alighted from the train before it could reach Lucknow. The police are now searching for him.

“Shivkumar claims he wasn’t given any money for the murder. We suspect he is lying, but further questioning will be done by Mumbai Police and the truth will emerge once other accused are also picked up,” said Phatak.

Injuries

Harish Bhambhani
>> Contusion on the right and left shoulder anterior aspects (which might be due to the pressure or force used by the accused)

>> Contusion mark on the upper anterior part of the chest (may happen due to pressure of knee to ensure that deceased do not get up from floor)

>> Contusion on left hand arm medially (could be while the accused held the hand with force)

>> Contused lacerated wound on the bridge of the nose

>> CLW on lower lip inner side and upper lip contusion on inner side (evident in case of smothering)

Hema Upadhyay
>> Contusion on the lower lip front side (evident in case of smothering)

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