Mumbai

Artist Hema Upadhyay, her lawyer found dead in drain

The place in Kandivali where the bodies were found. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Two bodies found in a sewage drain in Kandivali on Saturday evening were on Sunday identified as those of noted artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani.



The police have registered a complaint of murder and destruction of evidence against unknown persons, and are questioning her ex-husband Chintan, also a famous artist, as well as three or four locals, picked up on suspicion.



Two rectangular cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic were seen floating in the drain by some residents, who called the police. The boxes were found to contain two bodies, one of a man and the other of a woman.



‘No injuries’



“Based on separate missing person complaints filed at the Matunga and the Santacruz police stations, we identified the deceased as Hema Upadhyay and Harish Bhambhani. There were no external injuries on the bodies. We are awaiting post-mortem reports to ascertain the exact cause of death,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Vikram Deshmane, Zone XI.







Sources said that Mr. Upadhyay, who was in Delhi, was contacted in the early hours of Sunday morning. He reached Mumbai later in the day and went to the Kandivali police station, and was being questioned until late Sunday evening. Some local criminals were also picked up on suspicion, said sources.



The police said they checked the CCTV footage of Hema’s studio in Andheri (W) and saw her and Harish leaving together around 8 p.m. on Friday in his car.



Police officers who are part of the investigating team said that Harish left his Matunga residence on Friday evening, telling his family that he was going to meet a client. His daughter called him around 8.30 p.m. to ask him when he was coming home, and he told her that he was at an important meeting with a client and should not be disturbed. That was the last conversation he had with his family. When subsequent attempts to reach him failed, his daughter registered a missing person’s complaint with the Matunga police.



Meanwhile, Hema left her Juhu residence on Friday evening, only telling her servant that she was going out for some work.



“Harish’s family reached Hema’s residence on Saturday morning to try and get some leads about his whereabouts. Her servant told them that Hema herself was missing since Friday. They then registered a missing person’s complaint with the Santacruz police,” said a police officer.



Doctors who conducted a preliminary medical examination have told the police that death seems to have occurred around three to four hours before the bodies were found.



Hema had filed for divorce from Mr. Upadhyay in 2010. Harish was representing her, while her husband was represented by advocate Niteen Pradhan. The couple were officially divorced in 2014, said sources.



The divorce battle was dotted with bitter allegations and counter allegations, with Hema filing an application in 2013 alleging that Mr. Upadhyay was trying to harass her by drawing obscene paintings on the walls of their Juhu residence. Hema and Chintan were at the time staying in the same house but in different rooms.



“The matter ultimately went to the Supreme Court, and was dismissed on the grounds that Chintan’s bedroom was his personal space,” Mr. Pradhan told The Hindu, adding that Hema had filed an application seeking alimony, which was scheduled for hearing next year.



Retracing footsteps

  • >> Lawyer Harish Bhambhani leaves his Matunga residence at 7.30 pm on Friday.
  • >> Daughter speaks to him at 8:30 pm. He says he is an important meeting with a client.
  • >> Between 8:30 pm-9 pm, he goes to Hema's studio in Andheri (W). They leave together.
  • >> After 9 pm, their phones are switched off.
  • >> Late Friday night, daughter lodges a missing person's complaint at Matunga Police station.
  • >> Hema Upadhyay leaves her Juhu residence at 7.30 pm on Friday
  • >> Her servant tries to reach her until late Friday night, but does not get through.
  • >> Files missing person's complaint with Santa Cruz Police station on Saturday morning.


Also Read: >'Her art spoke volumes about diaspora, longing'


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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 11:13:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/artist-hema-upadhyay-her-lawyer-found-dead-in-drain/article7983307.ece

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