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One and a half years later, key suspect in murders of Hema Upadhyay and Harish Bhambani still at large

Mumbai city news: The Mumbai police and the crime branch have come close to catching him several times, but he managed to escape everytime.

mumbai Updated: Jun 22, 2017 12:25 IST
Farhan Shaikh
Farhan Shaikh
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,Hema Upadhyay,Harish Bhambani
Hema Upadhyay(Ht File)

While the Mumbai police are touted as the second law-enforcement force after Scotland Yard, a first-time criminal involved in a double murder has managed to dodge them for over a year and a half. Where is Vidhyadhar Rajbhar? The question still remains unanswered, after he allegedly killed artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambani in a chawl in Mumbai.

Rajbhar, a small-time fabrication artist, worked for Hema and her husband Chintan, along with working for other such artists in the city. The Mumbai police and the crime branch have come close to catching him several times, but he managed to escape everytime.

He lived with his mother, his wife and their daughter born to him a few months before he allegedly killed the 43-year-old artist and the 65-year-old lawyer. In three months, his daughter would turn two. In September last year, officials of the Mumbai police and the crime branch waited on their heels for one misstep. After all he was a mere novice, the policemen thought in hopes of catching him. However, there was radio silence and no trace of Vidhyadhar again.

Until mid-December 2015, Vidhyadhar was just a low-lying busy artist working in the lanes of Charkop in Kandivli (West), collaborating with artists who would visit him at his small workshop for their art projects. It was in December that it all changed for the families of Hema and Bhambani, and for all the accused who were arrested in the case. Vidhyadhar was not an artist anymore but a man on the run in a brutal double murder case.

A day after fleeing Mumbai, Vidhyadhar called his mother. In her statement to the police, which is included in the charge sheet, Savitri said, “He called and said, ‘I have killed Hema Upadhyay. I have killed Hema on the instructions of Chintan. However, Chintan is now threatening to kill me. I am in Itarsi now and will come to Kandivli police station to surrender.’”

With every month that goes without Vidhyadhar being arrested, the city’s police department gets anxious.There has been no trace of Vidhyadhar in the last six months. Shortly after he escaped from the city, rumours were abuzz that he was killed.

The rumours were put to rest when the police finally traced a call her made to a lawyer seeking legal advice to Madhya Pradesh and then to Chennai. He was later traced to Guwahati in April 2016, but the trail went cold after that. The policemen have had no leads since then. In May last year, a city sessions court even issued a non-bailable warrant against Vidhyadhar.

First Published: Jun 22, 2017 11:05 IST