Celebrity artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Haresh Bhambani were murdered, their bodies packed in cardboard boxes and dumped in a drain in a Mumbai suburb.
The police said the main suspect, Gotu, is the owner of a Charkop warehouse where Hema used to store her works. The motive could be a dispute over Rs. 5 lakh between the two.
The brutal double murder was discovered when a man rang up police around 7.30pm on Saturday to inform that he saw a leg protruding from a box in a storm water drain opposite a crematorium in the Dhanukar Wadi area of Kandivali (West).
The place where the bodies were recovered was quite far from Hema’s home on plush Juhu Tara Road.
Officers investigating the case said the Baroda-born artist, known for her soulful work, was probably smothered with a pillow. The bodies have been sent for an autopsy to know the exact cause of death.
Last month, Upadhyay was at the centre of a controversy after she was detained by Rajasthan police and questioned for “hurting religious sentiments” with an installation at the Jaipur Art Summit, depicting a plastic cow suspended by a balloon.
Police officials have also detained three others in connection with the case but declined to reveal their identities. Besides, police have questioned Hema’s ex-husband Chintan Upadhyay, who is also a famous contemporary artist.
Shocked friends and compatriots described Hema as an invaluable part of the contemporary art scene, whose work was primarily photographic and sculptural while her installations explored the realms of human migration to cities, female identity in India, nostalgia and loss.
RIP Hema and Haresh!