Mumbai, Dec 15: Acting on a tip-off from their Maharashtra counterparts, Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force in Varanasi, on Monday, Dec 14, arrested the prime suspect in the Mumbai double murder case of well-known painter Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer.
"Mumbai police shared some information on the basis of which Shiv Kumar alias Sadhu Rajbhar, a resident of Badagaon, Varanasi, has been detained by UP STF," IG (law and order) A Satish Ganesh told reporters.
He said documents related to the victims were recovered from the possession of Shiv Kumar who has been taken into custody. [Mumbai Double murder: Well-known artist, lawyer found dead]
"He will be handed over to Mumbai police team which has already arrived here. The Mumbai police will probably produce him in court on Tuesday, Dec 15," the IG said.
Ganesh said details of the case would be shared by Mumbai police which was investigating the matter. Police are also ascertaining whether Kumar was the last person to call Hema.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti told a news agency, "We haven not arrested but detained Shivkumar Rajbhar alias Sadhu in Varanasi."
Vidyasagar Rajbhar main accused?
The Mumbai police on Monday, Dec 14, hunted for Vidyasagar Rajbhar, who they identified as the "main accused" in the double murder of installation artist Hema Upadhyaya and her lawyer
The investigators zeroed in on Vidyasagar as the main culprit following sustained questioning of the three persons-- Azad Rajbhar, Pradeep Rajbhar and Vijay Rajbhar.
Three detained from Mumbai are in the business of manufacturing and selling fibre glass, which was used by Hema and her estranged husband Chintan Upadhyaya, also an artist, for their installations, said an officer privy to details of the probe.
Those detained had known Chintan for the last few years. One among them had called up Hema on her mobile phone before her murder, police said.
On Sunday, Dec 13, three suspects were detained in Mumbai in connection with the sensational and high-profile case.
Police grills witnesses
The barely-clothed bodies of 43-year-old Hema and her 65-year-old lawyer Harish Bhambhani, their hands and feet tied with ropes, were found packed inside cardboard boxes lying near a drain near Dahanukarwadi area in Kandivali West, a suburb in northwest in suburban Mumbai on Saturday, Dec 12.
Their body samples were sent for chemical analysis and autopsy reports are awaited, a senior police officer said.
"As per our probe their bodies in boxes were transported in a tempo from suburban Juhu to Kandivali (W)," DCP (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni said.
On Monday, Police also quizzed the driver of the truck who dumped the boxes in the drain thinking they contained broken antiques. The statement of the transporter has been recorded, police said.
Earlier, the police had recorded the statement of the watchman at Hema's apartment on Juhu Tara Road and her domestic servant Lalit Mandal.
About Hema's husband
Hema's husband Chintan, who was in Delhi and arrived in Mumbai on Sunday, Dec 13, was also questioned by the Crime Branch, and later allowed him to go.
Hailing from Rajasthan, Chintan and Baroda-born Hema were classmates at the Baroda Faculty of Fine Arts. The duo got married in 1998 and later made it big in the Mumbai art world.
Hema bagged awards from the Gujarat State Lalit Kala Academy and the national Lalit Kala Akademi besides a prestigious national scholarship from the union human resource development ministry.
Bhambhani's car still missing
Bhambani's younger daughter Anita had also filed a similar complaint at Matunga police station the same day. According to Anita, Bhambani had left his King Circle home in Matunga to meet Hema at around 6.30 pm on Friday.
Investigators said Bhambani, who lived in Sion, met Hema at her art studio in Andheri around 8.30 pm on Friday before talking to his wife on phone. Thereafter, the Bhambani family could not establish any contact with him despite calling him several times.
Police suspect that an unidentified person known to the duo had called the lawyer to give fresh evidence in a property dispute involving Hema, a resident of Santa Cruz, who was suspected to have been strangled with Bhambani by the perpetrators of the crime.
Additional Commissioner of Police (North Region) Fatehsingh Patil claimed his team was "very close" to cracking the case. Police said Bhambani's car, in which he had left for the meeting, is still to be traced.
(With Agency inputs)