Aaftab Poonawala used occasionally to beat his girlfriend Shradha Walkar and then apologise to persuade her to forgive the assault, her brother testified in a city court where the trial in Walkar’s sensational murder case began on Thursday.
Shreejay Vikas Walkar, the victim’s younger brother who studies engineering in Pune, told additional sessions judge Manisha Khurana Kakkar that his sister left their Mumbai home in 2019, and started living with Poonawala despite the family’s opposition to the relationship.
He told the court that his sister refused to stay with her family though they tried to persuade her to return.
“We tried to reason with her, but it appeared that she was influenced by Poonawala. She left the house in 2019, and shifted to a rented accommodation in Naigaon (Mumbai). I stayed in touch with her and met her occasionally. Two weeks after she left, Shraddha told me that she faced verbal and physical assaults by Poonawala. She also told me that Aaftab would occasionally beat her up. I told my mother about this,” Shreejay said in his testimony.
Poonawala is accused of killing Walkar and then chopping her body into pieces in May last year.
According to police, he kept the body in a fridge in south Delhi’s in south Delhi Chhattarpur Pahadi, where the couple had just moved in. Police said Poonawala dumped the body parts in areas across south Delhi over several days.
Poonawala and Walkar, originally from Vasai in Mumbai, were in a relationship and moved to Delhi in May 2022. Her murder came to light when a friend informed Walkar’s father that he had not heard from her in nearly two months. Unable to contact Walkar, her father informed Mumbai Police in last October. The Mumbai Police’s probe led cops to the couple’s house in Delhi.
Poonawala was arrested in November last year. He is currently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail.
The key breakthrough in the case came when DNA analysis confirmed in December that 13 decomposed body parts, mostly pieces of bones, were that of Walkar.
Delhi Police filed the charge sheet in the case in January. The court framed charges against Poonawala on May 9 for offences under sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code.
Besides Shreejay, two other witnesses — an auto driver and a neighbour — were presented before the court on Thursday. The recording of the testimonies of the auto driver and the neighbour also were completed.
The neighbour said that she had once seen Poonawala arguing with Walkar.
She said that after this incident she did not see them, adding that it was only in November that she got to know his name from the police officials investigating the case.
The auto driver said he dropped Walker from a Metro station in south Delhi to Chhattarpur Pahadi on May 18,2021, adding that he later got to know that she was murdered.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on July 12.
According to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the witnesses are examined by the public prosecutor in support of the prosecution’s case, and at the conclusion of the examination, the defence counsel, representing the accused, cross-examines the witnesses. Shreejay is the prosecution’s main witness.