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Diamond merchant murder case: Texts between Udani, accused’s lover may have led to his murder

Udani was kidnapped and killed on November 28, 2018.

mumbai Updated: Mar 07, 2019 00:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Mumbai, India - December 7, 2018 : Rajeshwar Udani, a businessman from Ghatkopar, was found dead on Wednesday in Mumbai, India, on Friday, December 7, 2018. (HT PHOTO)(Hindustan Times)

Messages exchanged between diamond merchant Rajesh Udani and actress Devoleena Bhattacharjee may have pushed her partner and political party worker Sachin Pawar to murder Udani. In a statement that is part of the charge sheet filed on Tuesday by the Mumbai Police, Bhattacharjee has said Pawar thought she was romantically involved with Udani.

Udani was kidnapped and killed on November 28, 2018. The prime accused in the case are Pawar and suspended police constable Dinesh Pawar. Others named in the charge sheet include Siddhesh Patil, Mahesh Bhoir, Pranit Bhoir, Shaista Khan and Nikhat Khan. All of them are in jail and will be charged with kidnapping, wrongful confinement, murder, robbery, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy.

Of the 204 witnesses in the 1,330-paged charge sheet, the statements Sohil Golandaz and Linoz Bodak may help prove criminal conspiracy and provide a timeline for the night of Udani’s murder.

Golandaz and Bodak have said Dinesh told them to get a birthday cake (later used to smother Udani to death), and meet Dinesh and Pawar at Vikhroli on November 28, 2018. The two remember Pawar was in a car that Pranit Bhoir was driving. Bhoir didn’t know the way to Ghansoli, so they gave him directions. Golandaz and Bodak accompanied the car on their bikes. Soon after Rabale station, the car stopped. Dinesh and two accomplices jumped into the car and the group drove off at high speed. Golandaz and Bodak turned back near Badlapur, around 11pm, because they had run out of petrol.

Another key witness is Bhattacharjee, whose statement offers a possible motivation for the murder.

The actress told the police that on November 17, 2018, Udani had visited Pawar and Bhattacharjee’s home. Afterwards, Udani sent Bhattacharjee a message saying, “Thanks for the great hospitality. Enjoyed the company and food. Looking forward to more such good times.” The actress had replied with “Most Welcome. See you soon.”

According to Bhattacharjee, Pawar was furious when he saw these messages and the couple fought. Bhattacharjee first met Udani in December 2017 through Pawar. She said she’d had two phone conversations and three meetings with Udani, and Pawar had been jealous of Udani. He’d ordered her not to meet him, but invited Udani to their house on November 17, 2018. Bhattacharjee also said that after Udani’s son contacted Pawar to tell him about his father’s disappearance, Pawar had seemed disturbed for days.

First Published: Mar 07, 2019 00:00 IST