New Delhi: Staying active on Shraddha Walkar’s social media account and disposing her body parts over several days were among the measures Aaftab Amin Poonawala allegedly employed to conceal his live-in partner’s murder.
But it was only a matter of time before he ran out of luck and the police came knocking at his door.
The couple moved to the house in Mehrauli in May. On the 18th of that month, an argument broke out between them and Poonawala tried to shut her mouth with his hand. He later allegedly strangulated her, police said.
The next day, he purchased a saw and a 300-litre refrigerator, taking inspiration from American crime drama ‘Dexter’.
On May 20, he sawed her body into 35 pieces and dumped them in the fridge.
Poonawala had studied hotel management and worked as a chef a few years ago. He had undergone a two-week training on how to cut meat, which he used to chop Walkar’s body.
“He cut her body for two days,” an official said.
Police said Poonawala would pack the refrigerator’s deep freezer with the pieces and put the remaining ones in the bottom tray. After some time, he would take the frozen pieces out to deep freeze those kept in the tray.
He also used incense sticks and room freshener to suppress the foul smell.
He used to take out the chopped pieces, pack them in polythene bags and take them to the forest in a backpack. “He would go to the jungle at around 2 am and return a couple of hours later. He repeated this for around 20 days,” the official said.
According to police, Poonawala is “sharp-minded” and was more comfortable answering them in English though he knew Hindi.
Poonawala and Walkar met each other on an online dating app. Later, they started working for the same call centre in Mumbai and fell in love. But their families objected to the relationship as they belonged to different faiths, prompting the couple to move out of the financial capital.
They went to Himachal Pradesh and later arrived in Delhi. They stayed at a hotel in Paharganj here for a day and later moved to a hostel in Saidulajab in south Delhi.
On May 15, they moved to the house in Chhattarpur Pahadi.
Police said shortly after they shifted to the south Delhi house, their relationship turned sour and they suspected each other of having affairs with other people.
Even after allegedly killing Walkar, Poonawala continued to live in the same flat and ordered food through online apps, police said.
Walkar was not in touch with her family members after she moved in with Poonawala but used to chat with her friends on Instagram.
After allegedly killing her, Poonawala used to impersonate Walkar on the app and chat with her friends until June 9.
When her status remained inactive for long thereafter, her friends informed her family members, who in turn approached the police.
According to the FIR, the victim’s father separated from her mother in 2016. The mother died a couple of years ago.
It also said Walkar used to earlier inform her mother that Poonawala had been beating her up. Around 15 to 20 days after the death of her mother, she called her father and informed him about the same. She had even met him in person later.
The FIR quoting the victim’s father read, “When I asked her to leave Poonawala and return home, he apologised to her and she went back with him. She did not listen to me and therefore I stopped talking to her for several months.” According to Ankit Chauhan, Additional DCP-I, South district, the victim’s father called Poonawala one day and learnt that the couple had parted ways sometime ago.
“Unable to contact his daughter, the father then filed a missing complaint,” Chauhan said.
After receiving the complaint, Mumbai Police traced her last location to Delhi and also called Poonawala whose contradictory statements raised suspicion, prompting them to rope in Delhi Police.
On November 7, the Mumbai Police sent the case file to the Delhi Police.
They said Poonawala was working at a call centre in Gurugram and was allegedly dating another woman.
His landlord has claimed that tenant verification had been done before alloting the house.
“He was firm during the interrogation. But when he father came, the accused burst into tears,” an official said.