‘Aggressive’ Aaftab used to beat Shraddha often: Charge sheet

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Aaftab Poonawala murdered his girlfriend Shraddha Walkar in May 2022, used a saw and other weapons to dismember her body, and stored the body parts in a freshly purchased refrigerator, and later disposed of the body parts in Delhi’s jungle areas over time, as per his convenience, Delhi Police have said in a 6,629-page charge sheet filed in the case.

The police also said that Poonawala was of an “aggressive nature” and used to beat Walkar for petty issues, and that though Walkar wanted to end the relationship, she could not as she had no contact with father or brother.

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Aviral Shukla took cognisance of the charge sheet, which had been filed on January 24, and listed the matter for further scrutiny of documents on February 21.

Poonawala, 28, and Walkar, 27, both originally from Vasai near Mumbai, had been in a relationship for years and had moved to Delhi in May 2022. Walkar was estranged from her family, who said they opposed her relationship with Poonawala.

Just days after they moved to Delhi, Poonawala allegedly killed Walkar on May 18, 2022 at their rented accommodation in south Delhi’s Chhattarpur Pahadi. He then chopped up the body into 35 pieces and dumped them in forested areas in and around south Delhi — a tactic that helped him avoid being caught till his arrest on November 12.

HT had reported in January that two DNA reports have confirmed that bones retrieved from forests in South Delhi belong to Walkar. A third forensic report also confirmed that traces of blood found in the Chhattarpur flat where the couple lived belonged to Walkar and that an analysis of the remains confirmed it was chopped by a saw, tying in with what Poonawala said.

In the charge sheet, police said Poonawala had strangled Walkar on May 18, 2022 and purchased a saw, three blades, a hammer and plastic clips to dismember her body. They said Poonawala then dismembered Walkar’s body into 17 pieces over the next four to five days, storing the body parts in a refrigerator that he bought to avoid stench and decomposition. He later disposed of the body parts in jungle areas of Chhatarpur and Mehrauli as per his convenience, police said.

Police have recovered a saw, several knives and many other tools from the flat where Walkar was killed.

To establish an alibi, police said, Poonawala tried to portray to friends that Walkar had ended their relationship and had moved out, and he also messaged friends using Walkar’s phone. However, the GPS locations, call detail records and IP logs proved that Walkar’s phone was near Poonawala’s location, police said.

Delhi Police also said that Poonawala was aggressive and used to beat Walkar for petty issues. They noted that in 2020, Walkar had written a letter to the Mumbai Police, stating that Poonawala had attempted to kill her and has been assaulting her. She had also informed the police that did not want to live with him any longer, and Poonawala should be held responsible for any physical hurt she may suffer.

According to the charge sheet, after Walkar’s disappearance came to light and Walkar’s father filed a missing person’s complaint in Mumbai, Poonawala joined the investigation but destroyed Walkar’s phone and her debit and credit cards en route to Mumbai.

After murdering Walkar, the charge sheet said, Poonawala met another woman through an online dating app and would bring her back to the Chhattarpur Pahadi flat. Police said whenever the woman was visiting, he would clean the refrigerator and store Walkar’s dismembered body parts in the lower cabinet of his kitchen.

After his arrest, Delhi Police said that Poonawala initially tried to mislead investigators and later, after a detailed interrogation, he retracted many statements that he had given to the police. The charge sheet also noted that several body parts recovered from Delhi’s forested areas were sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, New Delhi and the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad for DNA matching and analysis.

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