The Kandivli police have filed a 1,658-page charge sheet against artist Chintan Upadhyay and four others over the murders of Chintan’s wife Hema, also an artist, and her lawyer Haresh Bhambani. Hema’s and Haresh’s bodies were found in cardboard boxes in a drain at Kandivli on December 12 last year, a day after they are believed to have been murdered at a Kandivli warehouse.
According to the police, Chintan’s and Hema’s ongoing divorce case and a property dispute had led him to plot the murders with the other four. They have recorded the statements of 60 witnesses, including that of the mother of Vidhyadhar Rajbhar, a key suspect who remains at large. Vidhyadhar’s mother, the police say, has told them that her son called her and confessed to the murders.
The charge sheet includes various pieces of evidence, including call records which, the police claim, provide clinching against Chintan. CCTV footage of the suspects showing up Hema’s studio in Andheri has also been included in the charge sheet, along with forensic evidence such as a chemical analysis report of the victims’ viscera. Also on the evidence list are the cardboard boxes in which the bodies were found, and a sedative-laced cloth allegedly used to smother Hema and Haresh.
Another piece of evidence is a wound on the palm of Shivkumar Rajbhar, Vidhyadhar’s cousin and the first suspected to be arrested. Shivkumar was held in Uttar Pradesh soon after he fled the city with Vidhyaydhar. According to his statement to the police, Hema and Haresh arrived at the godown in Charkop on December 11, 2015. As the two sat down for a discussion, Vidhyadhar gesticulated to him. Shivkumar then pounced on Bhambhani, covering the lawyer’s mouth with his hand. Bhambhani bit his palm, leaving him with a deep wound. Following his arrest, the police conducted a medical examination that revealed the age of the wound and seemingly corroborated Shivkumar’s statement. “The medical reports form a crucial part of our evidence and will help us make a strong case against the accused,” said a police officer, who did not wish to be named.
Meanwhile, Pradeep Rajbhar, another accused, has also confessed his role in the murders before a magistrate, saying he had committed the crime on Chintan’s directions. A hearing to commit the case to a sessions court will be held on March 21 at the Borivli metropolitan magistrate court.
Police officials added, however, that the investigation isn’t over as several pieces of evidence are yet to be reviewed. For one, the forensic science laboratory is yet to submit its report on the electronic evidence, including the email records of Chintan and Hema.