Soap star questioned and two held after diamond trader found dead in forest

A soap star has been questioned by police while a former ministerial aide and a policeman have been arrested over the alleged murder of a diamond trader.

Mumbai police detained actress Devoleena Bhattacharjee, who stars in popular Indian drama Saath Nibhana Sathiya, and quizzed her for several hours over the death of Rajeshwar Udani, officials reportedly said on Saturday.

The Times of India reported that the 28-year-old was the girlfriend of Sachin Pawar, who used to work as a personal assistant to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Prakash Mehta.

NDTV reported that Pawar is also an acquaintance of the diamond merchant.

The broadcaster said authorities were remaining tight-lipped on her role in the case but hinted other women from the entertainment business could be questioned.

The investigation comes after the 57-year-old diamond trader’s heavily decomposed body was found in a forest on 5 December in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. He had been reported missing on 28 November.

He was found without any apparent injuries and without any ID. His son identified him from the clothes and shoes he was wearing.

After he had been missing almost a week, police said they were investigating a kidnapping.

Mr Udani’s driver reportedly told police that the businessman had asked to be dropped near the Pant Nagar market where he got into another vehicle.

Media reports say detectives believe Mr Udani may have been killed at another location before being dumped in the forest.

Call records reportedly showed the businessman was a regular at several bars and was in touch with women from the entertainment business through Pawar.

After being released, Bhattacharjee thanked concerned fans on Twitter, saying she was “safe and home”.

“There is nothing to get worried about,” she wrote. “It was an investigation as I know the person who got killed… an official statement has been already given by the department… All is well!!:)”

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