Devoleena Bhattacharjee aka Gopi Bahu quizzed in diamond merchant murder case

TV actress probed in diamond merchant's murder

n another twist in the abduction and murder of Mumbai diamond trader, Rajeshwar Udani, TV actress Devoleena Bhattacharjee was summoned for questioning in the case.

On Saturday, two people including a suspended police constable were also arrested. The two accused, Sachin Pawar and Dinesh Pawar, have been arrested in the case. Sachin worked as a personal assistant to housing minister Prakash Mehta and Dinesh is a Mumbai police constable who was already arrested by Pant Nagar police for a rape case dating back to 2014.

The trader, Rajeshwar Udani, a resident of Mahalaxmi Society in suburban Ghatkopar, had gone missing on November 28. The 57-year-old’s decomposed body was found at Panvel in Raigad district Friday, police had said. A post-mortem report revealed fractures at several places in the body and that Udani was strangled to death.

V actress questioned

Now, TV actress Devoleena Bhattacharjee, who is famous for playing the genteel Gopi Bahu on the show Saath Nibhana Saathiya, has also become embroiled in the investigation. Bhattacharjee was summoned for questioning by the police and was interrogated for hours. She has not been given a clean chit by the police yet.

Bhattacharjee’s name cropped up in the probe after her phone number was found in Udani’s call details.

It appears the trader was murdered due to a monetary dispute with the accused and for eyeing a woman friend of Sachin Pawar, DCP (Zone VII) Akhilesh Singh said. It is not clear if the woman was Devoleena Bhattacharjee.

However, officials remain tight-lipped over her role in the case but hinted that some more women from the entertainment industry may be summoned for questioning, and did not rule out more arrests in the case.

Police investigations and call data records have revealed that Udani was a regular at some bars and in touch with several women, including from the glamour and entertainment industry, through Sachin Pawar, a former aide to a Maharashtra Minister, Prakash Mehta.

The case

According to police, Udani’s son had lodged a missing complaint at the Pant Nagar police station on November 29 when his father did not return home.

After nearly a week, on December 4, since he remained untraced and the family suspected something amiss, police registered a kidnapping case.

His driver told police that Udani asked him to be dropped near the Pant Nagar market where another vehicle came and he got into it.

His highly decomposed body, without any apparent injuries, was found late on December 5 and bereft of any identity paper. He was identified by his son from the clothes and shoes he was wearing.

Investigators suspect Udani’s kidnappers may have killed him at some other location before dumping the body in the Panvel forests.

Sachin Pawar was tracked down to Guwahati, where he had reportedly fled after Udani’s murder and he was tracked by mobile records, while Dinesh Pawar was already arrested in another case on Friday.

Maharashtra Housing Minister Prakash Mehta, Sachin’s former boss, released a statement saying Sachin doesn’t work with him anymore and that he was removed from BJP years ago.

“I have no connection with him. BJP doesn’t support criminals. Law will take its course,” said Mehta.

The accused were booked under the Indian Penal Code sections 302 (murder), 365 (kidnapping) and 120b (conspiracy).