Bombay Court Denies Bail to Ex-Husband of Murdered Artist Hema Upadhyay

Chintan Upadhyay is held as a suspect in the double murder of his ex-wife and her lawyer.

Chintan Upadhyay. Photo Chad Buchanan/Getty Images.

A Bombay court has rejected the bail application of artist Chintan Upadhyay, the ex-husband of artist Hema Upadhyay, who was murdered in Mumbai in December 2015 along with her lawyer, Haresh Bhambani.

Chintan, who claims he has been falsely implicated in the crime, originally asked for bail in November 2016; but on February 2, 2017, a judge decided he could still not rule out Chintan as a suspect.

“There is more than sufficient material to show that Chintan nurtured a grudge against Hema and he expressed this in his diary and also said that he wanted to eliminate her,” said Justice Sadhana Jadhav, according to Outlook India.

The couple had been proceeding with a divorce from 2010 until 2014, but at the time of the murders it was believed that Chintan had been in Dehli. The art world largely defended him at the time, providing alibis and character references, and criticizing local police for, as one friend of the late artist and her husband, Amir Rizvi, put it, “lack of coordination.”

Hema and Bhambani’s bodies were found in a drain in a suburb of Mumbai in December 2015, having been dumped by a van driver who believed he was disposing of boxes of antiques. They had been wrapped in plastic and stuffed in cardboard boxes, and police believe they had been gagged and bound with duct tape.

Four suspects were arrested within days: Shivkumar Sadhu Rajbhar, Azaad Rajbhar, Pradeep Rajbhar, and Vijay Rajbhar, all employees at a fabrication warehouse under Vidyadhar Rajbhar.

Shivkumar reportedly confessed to murdering them both in a debt dispute. The artist allegedly owed Vidyadhar $7,500 for the fabrication of a metal statue. Vidyadhar reportedly fled Mumbai shortly after the murders, and has not been arrested since.

In court on Thursday, Chintan’s lawyer, Raja Thakare, accused Vidyadhar of masterminding the murders. The judge chastised police for not having found Vidyadhar, but nonetheless maintained that “this court feels this is not a fit case to grant bail at this stage” to Chintan.

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