Tragedy in India as Artist Hema Upadhyay and Her Lawyer Are Found Brutally Murdered in Mumbai

Fabrication artist Sadhu Rajbhar has confessed to the crime.

Hema Upadhyay Photo: via the Indian Times
Hema Upadhyay
Photo: via the Indian Times

On Saturday night, the Indian artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Haresh Bhambani were found murdered in Mumbai.

The bodies of the artist—who exhibited globally to great acclaim—and Bhambani were discovered stripped to their underwear, tied up, wrapped in plastic, and stuffed into cardboard boxes in Kandivali, a suburb of the city, the Hindustan Times reports.

The bodies were found by a passing truck driver, who thought he had seen a leg protruding from a drain. Police later discovered that the bodies had been transported and dumped by van, the driver of which claims that he thought he was dumping boxes of antiques, according to DNA.

Hema Upadhyay's chandeliers made of matches <br> Photo: via dna India

Hema Upadhyay’s chandeliers made of matches. 
Photo: via DNA India.

Police have arrested one main suspect, fabrication artist Sadhu Rajbhar, and two unnamed parties, who were found in possession of items belonging to the victims. Police in Mumbai have said they believe these parties assisted the main perpetrator by helping to dispose of the bodies.

According to India Today, on Monday morning, Rajbhar, the last person Upadhyay called on the phone the night she was murdered, confessed to the double murder, declaring that he had “killed them both” in his statement to police. The motivations for the crime remain unclear.

Upadhay and Bhambani had gone out for dinner the evening before the bodies were discovered and neither of them returned home, raising the alarm.

Friends and co-workers have described Upadhyay as an integral part of the Indian contemporary art scene.

“She was a lovely and extremely sweet person … not a mean bone in her body,” Shireen Gandhy, who gave the artist her first solo show at her gallery Chemould in 2001, told the Hindustan Times.

Hema Upadhyay and her work <i>The Nymph and the Adult</i> (2000) <br> Photo: via Wikipedia

Hema Upadhyay and her piece The Nymph and the Adult (2000). 
Photo: via Wikipedia.

Upadyay’s often political and highly intricate work has been exhibited across the world, including the 10th International Triennale India in New Delhi and the Ivan Dougherty Gallery, on the campus of the Australian University of New South Wales, where she exhibited pieces made in collaboration with her husband, the artist Chintan Upadhyay.

Hema Upadhyay was estranged from her husband, who flew to Mumbai from Delhi on hearing the news and was also questioned by police. The couple were said to be embroiled in a bitter divorce battle, in which Bhambani was representing Hema Upadhyay.


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