Mumbai double murder: On daughter's first birthday, cops waited for Gottu to come home

Updated: Dec 13, 2016, 09:42 IST | Vinay Dalvi and Santosh Wagh |

In yet another defeat, cops in disguise waited in vain for double murder prime accused Vidyadhar Rajbhar to come home on Sep 13; stumped that Rs 35L family earned from sale of room hasn’t lured him to call

Chintan Upadhyay
Chintan Upadhyay

Vidyadhar Rajbhar alias Gottu has always been one step ahead of the police. The fabrication artist who is alleged to have killed artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer, Harish Bhambhani, exactly a year ago, is the clinching evidence the police need of Hema’s husband and artist Chintan Upadhyay having allegedly hired the hits, but his whereabouts are still unknown.

Artist Chintan Upadhyay at the funeral of his wife, Hema, last year. He is lodged in Thane jail for allegedly hiring the hit
Artist Chintan Upadhyay at the funeral of his wife, Hema, last year. He is lodged in Thane jail for allegedly hiring the hit

He was traced to Chennai on February 2 and then to Assam eight days later. But the trail went cold thereafter.

Even his daughter’s first birthday on September 13 couldn’t lure him back to his Charkop home. “We expected him to turn up for it. We had policemen in plainclothes in all lanes. But, he didn’t,” says a crime branch officer. The police even kept tabs on the family’s banks accounts. “After the family sold a room in their one-room-kitchen house for around R35 lakh, we looked out for any suspicious activity. But he hasn’t been in touch with his family,” says the officer.

Read Story: For families of Hema Upadhyay and Harish Bhambhani, life hasn't moved on

The only time Vidyadhar reached out was on February 2, when he called up a cousin in Surat from Chennai. The police rushed to Chennai, but found that he had moved on to Assam. “We haven’t been able to trace his phone number since February 10,” says the officer, who feels Vidyadhar is displaying the deftness of a seasoned criminal.

Vidyadhar Rajbhar
Vidyadhar Rajbhar

The police suspect that he is either holed up in Nepal or Bangladesh, has committed suicide or is settled in Tamil Nadu, which offers ample opportunities for fabrication.

Feb
Last time cops had a trace of Gottu when he called a relative in Surat from Chennai

Alleged henchmen

Vidyadhar: Main accused and cousin of the minor, absconding, last traced to Assam

Vijay: Tempo driver who dumped bodies in the drain; in Thane jail

Pradeep: Told cops Chintan hatched the plan; in Thane jail

Shivkumar: Killed Bhambhani with Pradeep; in Thane jail

Quick recall

Dec 11, 2015
11 am: Hema last seen by watchman of her apartment building

6.30 pm: Harish Bhambhani (in picture) leaves his King’s Circle home to meet Hema, says daughter Anita

8.30 pm: The two meet at her Andheri studio

Dec 12: Two bodies found in cardboard boxes in a nullah at Kandivli by a ragpicker in the evening

Dec 13: Bodies are identified as those of Hema and Bhambhani

Azad Rajbhar, Pradeep Rajbhar and Vijay Rajbhar detained by Mumbai police

Dec 14: Shivkumar Rajbhar alias Sadhu detained by UP police in Varanasi; says Hema and Bhambhani killed under absconding Vidyadhar’s instructions

Dec 22: Chintan arrested after questioning by crime branch

Jan 2016: Azad’s family produces documents to prove his age is 16

Feb: Dindoshi sessions court rejects Chintan’s bail plea

March 12: 2,000-page chargesheet filed against Chintan, Vidyadhar, Pradeep, Shivkumar Rajbhar and Vijay.

May 20: Case handed over to Unit VII of crime branch

Nov 17: Sessions court rejects Chintan’s second bail plea, saying there was “clinching prima facie and circumstantial evidence” of his i and that if let out on bail, he was likely to “tamper with the prosecution’s evidence”

Nov 27: Chintan files another plea before HC

Dec 8: Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam submits draft charges in court

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