New Delhi: The man accused of killing and chopping up his live-in partner into 35 pieces allegedly brought home another woman he was dating to the same flat at a time when body parts of his deceased partner were still stored in his refrigerator, ThePrint has learnt.
The suspect, identified as 28-year-old Aftab Amin Poonawala, had met another woman through a dating app and brought her to the couple’s flat, where his deceased girlfriend’s head and torso were concealed in his fridge, a Delhi Police source said. He had also met his alleged victim, 27-year-old Shraddha Walkar, on a dating app.
Poonawala was arrested on 12 November on the basis of a missing person’s report filed by Walkar’s parents and charged with murder.
Police claim he murdered her on 18 May after an argument. The couple, both from middle-class families in Maharashtra, had moved to Delhi and taken up a house on rent in Chhartarpur only days before the killing, the source said.
His chef’s training at a five-star hotel helped him chop up her body into small pieces over the course of days, the source claimed, adding that he used a 1-foot-long saw to perform the grisly task.
He then allegedly scattered these body parts in a wooded area near his house in Chhattarpur Pahadi as well as other places in Mehrauli, including jungles and garbage dumps, over the next few months.
Poonawala also allegedly ground her intestines into keema (minced meat) and stored her body parts in a fridge he bought specifically for the purpose. The young man stored his stash of ice-cream and cold drinks alongside the body, the police source claimed.
“Fearing that the body would smell, he first threw the intestines. He cut the body into tiny parts to fit into the fridge and threw them in 18-20 trips around 2 am each night. The head and the torso were kept till August,” the police source told ThePrint.
A fan of the American drama series Dexter — a show about a serial killer living a double life — Poonawala allegedly told his questioners in the Delhi Police that after chopping up Walkar’s body, he “wiped the floor with detergents and used agarbattis (incense sticks) to get rid of the foul smell”.
The accused had allegedly searched ‘how to clean blood’ and ‘how to get rid of body’ on Google.
To ward off suspicion, Poonawala allegedly continued to talk to Walkar’s friends on Instagram until 9 June.
“He used her credit card to pay off her dues to make sure no one questions her disappearance,” the police source said.
Police say they have recovered 13 suspected body parts so far.
In his First Information Report lodged with the Delhi Police, the woman’s father said he didn’t approve of his daughter’s interfaith relationship.
When asked if the crime had communal undertones, the police source said that they were “investigating all angles”.
A romance and a murder
A graduate who had completed a course in hotel management, Poonawala was a food photographer who promoted restaurants on Instagram. His feed is full of photos of food.
Police sources told ThePrint that Poonawala and Walkar met on a dating app in 2019 and later joined a call centre together. Walkar’s family was allegedly against the relationship but the two eventually decided to move in together despite the opposition, police said.
The couple moved to Delhi on 8 May after a trip to Uttarakhand and Himachal. On 15 May, they took up a flat in Chhattarpur just three days before the murder, police sources said.
A day after he killed Walkar, Poonawala bought a fridge and paid the dealer Rs 19,000 online to store his partner’s body and continued to use it normally, the police source said.
According to the source, Poonawala made some 27 trips to Mehrauli to get rid of the body parts. He allegedly carried body parts over to the woods in polythene bags and then dumped out the contents so that “animals could feed” on her flesh.
“He wanted the animals to feed on the body, so he would just discard them and then throw the black polythene bags in dustbins,” the source said.
He left the head and the torso until the end, the source said — he allegedly got rid of those in August.
Meanwhile, Poonawala had allegedly met someone else and was dating her. “He also got the girl to the same flat,” the source said, adding that he even joined a call centre 15 days after the murder.
On 14 February, Valentine’s Day, Walkar shared a photo of her with her boyfriend on Instagram. The caption accompanying the post said: “Happy couple”.
However, the Poonawala and Walkar had a tumultuous relationship right from the outset, the Delhi Police source told ThePrint.
The day she was killed, the couple allegedly fought because Walkar was insisting on getting married. She then accused him of infidelity.
“They fought over marriage and money and had trust issues. They would ask each other to share their current location and video call constantly,” the source said. “Marriage wasn’t the only issue. The duo would fight over money as they had run out of it. They also suspected each other of having other affairs,” the source said.
Neighbours at Gali No 1 in the Chhattarpur Pahari area told ThePrint that while they had frequently seen Poonawala, they had never seen Walkar. Her last Instagram post, a week before her death, shows her reading a book.
In October, Walkar’s family, alerted by friends who hadn’t heard from her for months, approached the Mumbai Police to file a missing person’s report.
After they tracked her mobile location to Delhi, the Mumbai Police allegedly called Poonawala to Mumbai for questioning. He allegedly told them Walkar had left him. He also gave his landlord the same story, sources said.
On 10 November — days after the case was transferred to them — Delhi Police registered a First Information Report based on a complaint by Walkar’s father. Poonawala was arrested after two days of questioning. Police also impounded the fridge in which he allegedly stored the body.
(This is an updated version of the copy.)
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)