The Delhi Police on Tuesday filed a 6,629-page chargesheet before the Saket court in the national capital against Aftab Amin Poonawala (28, at the time of the incident), and said that he had killed his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar (27) in south Delhi’s Mehrauli in May 2022 as he was unhappy over her meeting another friend.
The court is expected to take cognisance of the chargesheet on February 7; Poonawala’s judicial custody has been extended till then. The investigating officer of the case filed the chargesheet before metropolitan magistrate, Aviral Shukla, during a hearing where Poonawala was produced via video conferencing after the expiry of his current span of judicial custody. In the hearing, Poonawala also told the court that he wanted to change his lawyer, M.S. Khan.
The chargesheet was filed under Sections 302 (murder) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
According to the chargesheet, Poonawala killed Walkar in a fit of rage as he was unhappy over Walkar meeting another friend. A senior police officer said that Walkar had gone to see a 27-year-old man in Gurugram she had met via a dating app. The officer, however, said that the couple had not had many fights on previous occasions over a similar issue. “Chats and previous call records might have been deleted in past,” he added.
A senior police officer said that the murder took place around 2.30 p.m. on May 18, 2022.
The chargesheet says that Poonawala had disposed the victim’s body parts in various locations; some of them were recovered from a forest in Chhattarpur in the Mehrauli area. According to the police, Poonawala had dumped various parts of the victim’s body over a period of three months. The officer said that about 16-17 body parts, including hair, jaw, bones and pelvis, had been matched to the DNA collected from the victim’s father, Vikas Walker.
The chargesheet has about 180 testimonies from witnesses, including their friends, family members, colleagues and neighbours. It also mentions some screenshots of Walkar’s chats with her former boss and friends, in which she had complained of being in an abusive relationship, and of some injuries she had suffered during fights with Poonawala.
The chargesheet also says that Poonawala started working at a Gurugram-based private firm in June, a few weeks after the incident. A senior police officer said that during questioning, his colleagues claimed that they “did not notice any behavioural change in him”. He had also told some of his friends that Walkar had left him due to some issues between them, the officer added.
A senior police officer said that even though there were no eye-witnesses to the incident or to Poonawala dumping the body parts, the police has filed the chargesheet based on circumstantial evidence, various scientific reports, testimonies, and digital evidence.
According to the chargesheet, the police have also recovered some weapons. A senior police officer said that the recovered items include knives, hammers, scissors and mini-saws which were used in the murder, but added that the forensic report was yet to confirm this.
Addressing a press conference, Joint Commissioner of Police (JCP, Southern Range) Meenu Chaudhary said that, overall, nine teams had been formed and a Special Investigation Team (SIT) had been constituted to investigate the case from various angles. Teams were also dispatched to States like Maharashtra, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to collect evidence.
She said that the Mehrauli police had received information on a missing person from the Maharashtra Police, after which a search was begun for Walkar, and Poonawala was questioned. He was finally arrested on November 12.
Ms. Chaudhary also told reporters that various scientific tests had been conducted during the investigation, including a narco-analysis test and a lie-detector test. “We used scientific methods and during the investigation, the FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory), CFSL (Central Forensic Science Laboratory) and crime teams inspected the spot. Blood and bone tests were conducted and a DNA test was also conducted. Using the advanced technique of DNA mitochondrial profiling, the tests were also conducted in Hyderabad. To establish the trail of CCTV footage, a separate dedicated team was formed,” the JCP said, adding, “Results of all such tests are in line with our investigation.”