South Delhi murder: Police recover 13 body parts in Chhatarpur forest

Accused allegedly confessed to strangling his live-in partner in May, chopping her body into 35 pieces and storing it in his fridge, disposing of them in the forested area over a three-month period

November 15, 2022 12:26 pm | Updated 11:35 pm IST - Mumbai

Aftab Amin Poonawala, accused to have murdered his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar, being brought to the Mehrauli forest area, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022.

Aftab Amin Poonawala, accused to have murdered his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar, being brought to the Mehrauli forest area, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

“He must be hanged if he has killed my daughter so brutally,” said the father of 27-year-old Shraddha Walkar, who was strangled and chopped into multiple pieces allegedly by her live-in-partner Aftab Poonawalla in South Delhi’s Chhatarpur area in May. The crime came to light in November after the victim’s father filed a complaint with the Mumbai police who then contacted the Delhi police.

Mr. Poonawalla, 28, was arrested at his house on November 11. According to the police, he allegedly strangulated Ms. Walkar with his hands on May 18, in a fit of rage after an argument. He then chopped her body into 35 pieces and hid it in his fridge, disposing of it in the Chhatarpur forest, hardly a kilometre away from his house, over the next three months. The police recovered 13 body parts on Monday and have sent them for forensic analysis.

On Tuesday, Delhi Police officials took Mr. Poonawala to the Chhatarpur forest area and spent nearly three hours there to locate specific places where he had allegedly dumped her body parts, and to recreate the crime scene to understand the sequence of events. The police recovered 13 body parts, believed to belong to the victim, and will send them for DNA analysis by forensic experts. Blood samples will also be collected from the victim’s parents for the DNA analysis, the police said.

The victim’s father Vikas Walkar, who is now in Delhi along with her brother, said that he had not been in touch with his daughter after she left Mumbai for Delhi and only got to know that she was missing after her friends told him. “She left abruptly and I did not know anything about her. Her friends did tell me that she was not in a good mental state and wanted to break up with Aftab.... If whatever he said in his interrogation is true, then he should be hanged to death,” her father said.

“She was a very simple girl before she met Aftab. Her demeanour suddenly changed after meeting the accused. She used to be ambitious but I don’t know how did she change so suddenly. Once she left home and left Bombay with Aftab, she stopped talking to us and we did not know anything about her whereabouts,” Mr. Walkar added.

The police said that Mr. Poonawalla and Ms. Walkar had been dating each other since they met through the Bumble online dating app in 2019, while both were based in Mumbai. They started a live-in relationship which became a bone of contention with their parents, following which they shifted to Delhi on May 15 this year, the police added.

Additional DCP (South) Ankit Chauhan said that, before coming to Delhi, the couple had visited several hill stations in Himachal Pradesh. Since they started dating, they used to have frequent fights and suspected each other of having extra-marital affairs, he said.

“Three days after moving to Delhi, on the night of May 18, the couple had an argument again and in a fit of rage, Aftab strangled Shraddha with his hands and killed her. Thereafter, he kept the body with him inside his Chattarpur flat for two days and then started to chop it into pieces using a saw he had stored inside his house,” the ADCP said.

During interrogation, the accused told the police that the idea of chopping her body into 35 pieces was inspired by “Dexter”, an American crime TV series.

The police are also likely to approach authorities at the Bumble online dating app through which both the accused and victim met. “We want to access his account to analyse his profile and know how many women he was in contact with and screen the chats to understand his psyche. Based on the profile analysis we will also be approaching those people with whom he was in contact with and invited them to the same residence where he had killed the woman,” a senior police official told the Press Trust of India.

(with PTI inputs)

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