Husband of Murdered Artist Hema Upadhyay Is Primary Suspect
Fellow artists say the police have lost focus.
Following the brutal and shocking murder of the acclaimed Indian artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Haresh Bambini in December, the international art community has rallied around her estranged husband and primary suspect Chintan Upadhyay in an attempt to prove his innocence.
Several fellow artists have not only accused police of overreaching but have also claimed that officials have been “swayed by wild allegations.” The group is in the process of gathering evidence to prove Chintan’s innocence.
A social media campaign entitled #JusticeforHemaandChintan has been started by the artist’s friends to urge contemporaries of the suspect to share their encounters with Chintan in an attempt to show authorities that he couldn’t have committed such a gruesome crime.
Hungarian artist and director of the Visual Arts Institute in Hungary, Habil Istavan has provided evidence of time spent with Chintan in Delhi from December 8 through 10, just two days before Hema and Bhambhani’s bodies were discovered in Mumbai.
In an email Istavan told the Mumbai Mirror “On December 9, we had long discussion in his house, and after lunch, went to a craft market for shopping,” he wrote. “A common friend, Anish Ahluwalia, was also present for the late night dinner with Chintan on December 9. All this while, Chintan looked happy and well-balanced.”
Istavan attached a selfie depicting the two friends and a photo of two entry tickets to a local market. The evidence matches Chintan’s account, who told police that he had been hosting a Hungarian artist at his Delhi house only days before the bodies were found.
Amir Rizvi, a friend of both Chintan and Hema insists, “He was arrested only because of the lack of coordination among the Crime Branch and the Kandivali police.”
Rizvi explained that the police investigation lost focus after Hema’s cousin Deepak Prasad and the Bhambhani family leveled accusations at Chintan, causing them to change the course of their investigation. Their enquiries had previously been centered around a fabrication factory used by Upadhyay to which she owed money.
“Prasad made unsubstantiated allegations, but the police were forced to probe those. Their focus shifted on Chintan, and [one of the original suspects] Vidyadhar Rajbhar continues to be absconding.”
Another artist, Somu Desai clarified that the facts in the alleged divorce dispute at the center of Prasad’s accusations were in fact misconstrued.
“In their divorce case, Hema alleged she was in dire financial condition while Chintan was earning well,” he told the Indian daily. “However, Prasad alleged before the media that Chintan was jealous of Hema because of her financial success.”
Rizvi added that Chintan was cooperating with police. “They had nothing against him till the night of December 20, and he is arrested the next day, when he was asked to record his statement. It’s a mystery.”
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