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‘Sat on her chest, strangled her’—how police suspect Aftab murdered Shraddha in a ‘fit of rage’

Police say Shraddha Walkar found chats with another girl on live-in partner Aftab Poonawala's phone, leading to a fight which ended with him allegedly strangling her to death.

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New Delhi: Shraddha Walkar found her live-in partner Aftab Poonawala’s chats with another woman on his phone, which led her to believe that he was cheating on her. This suspicion is what may have led to a violent fight between the two on 18 May — the night Walkar was allegedly murdered.

According to a source in the Delhi Police, Poonawala (28) claimed during interrogation that Walkar (27) had been yelling at him and that the “fight went on for hours”. Fearing that the neighbours might hear them fighting, he allegedly pinned her down, sat on her chest and forcibly put his hand on her mouth in a bid to silence her, said the source.

Poonawala — who allegedly told the police that he was “fed up” with his live-in partner’s suspicion — then allegedly strangled her “in a fit of rage”, the source added. “He (Poonawala) said that he was fed up with her (Walkar’s) suspicions and their constant fights. He said he strangled her in a fit of rage.”

While looking online for ways to get rid of her body, he spent the rest of that night beside her corpse in the single-bedroom apartment in Chattarpur Pahari they had moved into just three days earlier. The next day, he allegedly bought a fridge from a dealer for which he paid Rs 19,000 online.

Over the next two days, he allegedly chopped Walkar’s body into pieces in the bathroom, packed them into polybags and stuffed them in the fridge. Then followed his trips to dumping grounds where police suspect he disposed of her remains. 

“He used a saw to chop the body. During questioning, he revealed that his training as a chef came in handy and that he used a single saw to cut the entire body — limbs separate, head and torso,” the source said. Police suspect he used agarbattis (incense sticks) to mask the smell of blood and kept the head and torso in the fridge till August.

“She told her friends about it (his alleged violent behaviour) and I asked her to come back to us. Aftab must have manipulated her into staying back with him. I had told her repeatedly that he isn’t a good guy and appears aggressive,” Walkar’s father Vikas told ThePrint Tuesday.

ThePrint reached Poonawala’s father Amin via call but his phone was switched off. This report will be updated when a response is received.

Also Read: ‘Third such claim, no internal injuries’ — evidence of ‘frame-up’ grows in Ghaziabad rape case

‘Confessed after father broke down’

“Suspicion arose when he kept changing statements. There was a clear evasive pattern in his communication,” said another source, referring to Poonawala’s earlier statements to the Mumbai and Delhi police. “He kept telling different things — on when she (Walkar) left him, how she went, and when they last spoke. He had told Mumbai Police and his landlord earlier that Shraddha had left him and he didn’t know where she was.”

Poonawala was arrested on 12 November, over a month after Walkar’s family approached the Mumbai Police at the insistence of a friend who told her brother that he hadn’t heard from her in months.

The police claim Poonawala has confessed to murdering Walkar and chopping her body into pieces which he then stored in a new refrigerator before dumping them at different spots.

He allegedly confessed to murdering Walkar a day after his arrest, only when his father visited him in police custody “and broke down, asking him to disclose everything”, according to police sources.

Police say they relied on Poonawala’s alleged confession, searched the dumping grounds and jungle near Chattarpur Pahari for Walkar’s remains and found 13 pieces of bones that have been sent for forensic examination. With police still gathering evidence, a court in Delhi remanded Poonawala to five-day police custody on 12 November.

Poonawala hails from a middle-class background and his family rented out their home in Vasai just 15 days back and moved to Mumbai. “He was a really nice boy. We have seen him grow up, he moved out only three years ago. Never heard of any fight or violence,” said his former neighbour, who knew Poonawala since the latter was a child.

“Aftab always felt like he didn’t belong with us or in his native place. Boys in school would pick on him and bully him over this attitude, but he never got violent with them in school. I have known his family and he has known mine. We are in shock,” said one of his childhood friends.

‘She wanted to end the relationship’

According to sources, Poonawala met Walkar through a dating platform and the two moved in together sometime in 2019. In May this year, they relocated from Mumbai to Delhi owing to their families’ opposition to their relationship. 

Police sources told ThePrint that Walkar and Poonawala were in a “toxic relationship” and would seek proof of their loyalty to each other by demanding GPS locations and video calls.

“We had gone to Aftab’s house in 2019 after my daughter and he got into a relationship, but his brother refused to let us enter and sent us back. My wife’s health deteriorated after that. She was extremely worried about her daughter and died of a heart attack in 2020,” said Shraddha’s father Vikas Walkar.

Walkar said he last spoke to his daughter in August 2021, and that they were not on talking terms after he refused to accept her interfaith relationship with Poonawala. Walkar’s parents had been living separately since 2016, four years before her mother passed away.

Her friends, meanwhile, claim that Walkar was fed up with the toxicity that had seeped into her relationship with Poonawala, and that she even complained to some of them about his alleged “abusive nature”.

“She stopped talking to most of us after she started dating him. She told some friends that she was married to him, he used to hit her, and that she wanted to end their relationship,” said Walkar’s college friend Rajat Shukla. Shukla clarified that while he hadn’t spoken to Walkar since 2019, he kept in touch with her best friend from college.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: Meerut suicide: Cops rethink sexual assault charges, say evidence points to ‘failed relationship’


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