Murder scan on TV actor, former aide of Maharashtra minister
Mumbai: Mumbai police on Saturday arrested a former personal assistant of Maharashtra housing minister Prakash Mehta and is questioning TV actress Devoleena Bhattacharya in connection with the murder of a diamond merchant.
Earlier in the day, a Mumbai police team had detained Sachin Pawar, who was expelled from the BJP in 2012, and Devoleena in Guwahati and flown them to Mumbai for questioning in connection with the murder of diamond merchant Rajeshwar Udani.
Dinesh Pawar, a constable suspended after being accused of rape, has also been arrested in connection with Udani’s murder.
“While he was missing, a number of calls had been made from Udani’s cellphone to Sachin. He (Sachin) was called for interrogation and after some inconsistencies were found in his statements he was arrested,” a police officer said.
Udani’s decomposed body was found on Friday in a forest in Panvel near Navi Mumbai. He had been missing since November 28.
The police are also questioning 20 others, including Devoleena, 26. According to police sources, Udani had had a dispute with the actress over Rs 70,000 and she was being questioned for more information on the alleged tiff. The sources said the names of Sachin, Devoleena and some bar dancers had been found on Udani’s call list.
Devoleena had first been noticed when she auditioned for Dance India Dance 2, and later went on to play the female lead in the Star Plus serial Saath Nibhaana Saathiya.
Devoleena was born to an Assamese mother and a Bengali father in Sibasagar, Assam. The actress lost her father at a very young age. She lives in Mumbai with her mother and younger brother. Before becoming an actress, Devoleena had done a course in jewellery designing and development.
On the night of November 28 this year, Udani, 57, left his office in Ghatkopar (east) and asked his driver Vijay Misal to drop him near the Vikhroli police outpost on the Eastern Express Highway. According to the police, Misal had told them that the diamond merchant had got off the car while speaking to someone over phone.
“Minutes later another car arrived and Udani got into it. That was the last time he was seen alive,” a police officer said.
A missing persons diary had been lodged the next day at Pantnagar police station by Udani’s family.
“He frequented some dance bars. Call records show he kept in touch with some of the dancers. They are being interrogated,” the officer said.
The police said Udani’s body had been dumped at an isolated place near the forest after he was killed somewhere else. His wallet was missing. His family identified Udani from his clothes and shoes.
In his close circles Udani was also known as an art collector whose possessions included works of Nandalal Bose, Benode Behari Mukherjee, Gaganendranath Tagore, Ramkinkar Baij, M.F. Husain, Ganesh Pyne and Jogen Chowdhury.
Sachin, who had been a political appointee to minister Mehta, was removed from the BJP in 2012 after he contested the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls as an Independent.
Mehta said he had severed ties with Sachin after his expulsion. “He was my personal assistant till 2009. After he contested the polls as a rebel I cut off all ties with him. I am sure the police will do the needful to bring the culprits to book. This has got nothing to do with me or my party,” the minister said.