Date of commission of crime: 18th May, 2022
Date of Arrest: 9th November, 2022
Accused Name: Aftab Amin Poonawala
Victim Name: Shraddha Madan Walkar
Session Judge: Manish Khurana Kakkar
Prosecutor: Amit Prasad and Madhukar Pandey
Defense lawyer: Akshay Bhandari
On 9th November, 2022 Mumbai Police informed the Delhi police about a missing girl named- “Shraddha Madan Walkar”. Delhi Police started investigating as soon as they received the call and then they found the body in pieces in 35-pieces.
About the victim: Shraddha was born in 1995 in Vasai, Maharashtra. She used to live with her family, which included Vikash Madan Walkar (father), Suman Madan Walkar (mother), Shreejay Walkar (elder brother). The family moved to Vasai, Palgarh for better educational opportunities, and it was where Shraddha spent most of her life. The Walkar family belonged to middle class socio-economic strata. After sometimes, due to some conflict between Shraddha’s parent they did not speak to each other and ultimately, started staying in different locations. Vikash used to stay away from their house but this incident did not let Shraddha to stop her studies and she also went to college. At the age of 20 years old, she thought that it is still hard for her mother to support both the kids and she should start a source of income since there was not much options in Palgarh, and she thought of shifting to Mumbai. Shraddha had a friend who let her get a job at a call canter in Malad, Mumbai.
Just after visiting Malad, she took a rented location beside her office to stay. Whilst doing her job she met an old friend- Aftab Amin Poonawala as he did his schooling from Vasai; and the place where Shraddha and her family used to live.
About the Accused: Aftab Amin Poonawala did his schooling from San Francis School, Vasai. He used to live with his family where his mother was a housewife and his father was a shoe retailer. His parents were really proud of him based on his academic achievements, and therefore they sent him to Mumbai for pursuing a degree in Bachelors in Management Studies (BMS). He held a good academic reputation but was also kind of a “player” when it came to relationship with girls. Before, Aftab and Shraddha came into a relationship he had almost a count of 20 girlfriends in which maximum were flings and hookups. He was very active on dating apps as per a testimony of Shraddha’s friend.
How did the Victim and the Accused meet?
As the city was very new for Shraddha, she was in search of a familiar face. Aftab used to work in the same call centre as her and henceforth they used to talk to each other on a regular basis. After some time, they started visiting new places and going out and therefore became very close. After sometime they also started liking each other and came into a relationship. Just a few weeks later, Aftab proposed Shraddha to come in a live-in relationship since the expenses in Mumbai were very high and that they also loved each other; it would be a good decision. Looking at her income, and her expenses, Shraddha also felt the same way.
Shraddha told her mother everything about Aftab, her relationship with him and the live-in, they were in. She even told her mother that she wanted to marry Aftab. But due to their difference of religion her mother warned her with regards to the disapproval of the inter-religion marriage by her family and close relatives. Suman wanted to bring an end to their relationship. But Shraddha did not abide by it. Suman therefore, sought help from Vikas by stating that Shraddha was his daughter as well and maybe she would listen to him. This brought up an outrageous situation among the family and Shraddha told them that she would never return to them and from then on, she does not have any family. She also asked them not to contact her ever again. On September 2019, Shraddha shifted all her belongings from her house completely to Aftab’s place and cut all ties with the family. Only her elder brother could she her WhatsApp and Instagram stories in order to get an update as to what was going on in her life. During the month of December 2019, her mother missed her and as per the call records, she called her during that time. She again asked her to end the relationship, but Shraddha refused. Henceforth, at the end, Suman gave up and before hanging up the call told Shraddha that she can come back whenever she wants, both Suman and Shreejay would always be there for her. Shraddha’s mother could convince her but on 20th January 2020, Suman died, which broke Shraddha. Afterall, her mother’s post death rituals, she became even more dependent on Aftab emotionally. Bases on her father’s claim, Aftab would cause physical violence on Shraddha, he would also use her salary to buy various illegal drugs like Ganja and would also use the money to buy groceries and fill the rent of the house they used to stay. Although both of them had the same income but still Shraddha’s salary was the most used.
After the death of Shraddha’s mother her father called her 3 times and all the three times to ask her to come back but Shraddha told him the same story that Aftab was very pure from his heart and due to his workload, his behaviour has changed and it will fade away with time. This was the last time Shraddha contacted her father, the only way to know about her life was her Social-media stories that would be followed by her brother, her father also opened an account just to know about her life updates.
During March 2020, Shraddha caught Aftab using dating apps and when she questioned him, he said that it was there since he met her and never deleted it, but Shraddha swore that Aftab even changed his phone after they met. They had consecutive fights after that as later Shraddha also found out that at their workplace Aftab was very close to a colleague of his and they fought over again. Each time Aftab had apologized Shraddha would forgive him. Later Shraddha proposed Aftab for marriage but he denied. At the beginning of 2021, Shraddha forced Aftab to ask his family and seek permission for their marriage which Aftab did but his mother refused and asked him to leave the relationship and come back home as Shraddha was a Hindu girl and this would not be accepted in their society. Aftab made up a plan to shift to Delhi as finding a job there would be way easier and the living expenses there were comparatively less. They also had friend there henceforth, living away from their family would be peaceful. Looking at Shraddha and Aftab’s savings they decided to shift. Before that, on 6th May, 2022 they went to Himachal Pradesh which they posted their images on social-media. On 8th May, 2022 both of them settled in Delhi. They lived in a hotel for 2 days and later they shifted to their common friend’s house in Chattarpur, and this friend helped them to get a rented apartment nearby. Shraddha later thought that since they have had settled in a new city away from their family it would be a very serious relationship and so she again proposed Aftab about their marriage and in return he answered that they were in a live-in relationship and they were happy why would they need to marry, even in Delhi Shraddha used to give all her money for they expenditure of the house and she was feeling the lack of commitment from Aftab.
Later on, 18th May, 2022 they had a huge fight since Shraddha asked him for marriage again. Aftab got outrageous and held Shraddha by her neck and strangulated her using his hand until she turned blue and wasn’t breathing.
Aftab told in his verdict that he was unusually very calm after murdering Shraddha and also that he locked the room where Shraddha was lying dead and then went to the other room and slept while watching serial-killer documentaries like “dexter” as to how to save oneself form getting arrested and how to make sure that he can hide the body easily. The next morning when Aftab woke up he bought certain essentials from different stores in order to make sure that no one would suspect him. The list of items he purchased were: a big double door refrigerator, a saw, polyethylene bags, a backpack, bleach and other chemicals. He then came back and shifted Shraddha’s body to the bathroom where he opened the shower to wash away the blood and started cutting the body into 35 small pieces. He then started putting the parts into small plastic bags and then put these plastics into the new freezer. Since he could not cut all the parts in one day, he put the small parts into the freezer and rest in the lower section where he also used to keep his food as well. On the next day when he was cutting the hip section of Shraddha, he cut his left hand. On morning of 20th May, 2022 at approx. 11:00 to 12:00, as per the verdict of the doctor Aftab came into the clinic for dressing up the wound. When the doctor asked him about the injury, he said that it happened while he was cutting fruits and the doctor on seeing the incision believed him, the only way that the doctor remembered him was that he was speaking in English completely which was very unusual as for a person who lived in Mumbai before, which Aftab told the doctor when he was interrogating about the injury. This was the verdict by the doctor as per the NDTV news channel’s interview.
On the 3 rd day he finished cutting the entire body and then he cleaned the entire apartment with bleach and other chemicals. Since he was very new to the place, he did not know the various locations and henceforth he took some parts of the body and put it in his backpack. On the same day at about 1:00 AM he left his apartment to dispose the parts. He dumped the first part at Mehrauli Jungle. He continued the process at that night itself. To have a count of the no. of parts he had dumped he started keeping a note in his diary which was later found by the police. In the same diary he also made a rough future plan as to which places, he would dump the rest of the body later. The pattern he followed were waterbodies, jungle’s etc. and also ticked off all the dump yards where he already dumped the pieces in order to make sure that he would not dump a lot of parts at the same site as well as that wild animals and dogs would not accumulate a lot in the sites. This continued for 10-12 days and within this span he stopped going to work as well as started to used Shraddha’s phone and reply to all the texts on behalf of her. Within this time Aftab also send himself Rs.54,000 from Shraddha’s phone to his bank account. He was pretty sure that Shraddha did not have any contacts with her family or any friends in Mumbai and also that his friends’ would not even ask him about Shraddha, the only thing he had to pretend was on Social-media that Shraddha was still alive. The only body part left was her head, and on 5 th June, 2022 he went to a location where he kept the head and poured kerosene in order to make sure that if by any means police get the remaining, they would not be able to identify the person.
During the period from June, 2022 to November, 2022; Aftab had to come back to Mumbai with some work where he dumped Shraddha’s phone post switching it off in Mumbai itself. Shraddha’s father used to follow all her social-media platforms but due to absence of any updates from her side he started panicking and called Shraddha’s friends to make sure she was all right. One of Shraddha’s friends informed Vikas that both Aftab and his daughter had shifted to Delhi and were working in a firm together. On September, 2022 Vikas suspected something and reported to the police about his missing daughter. Since, the mobile location was last seen in Delhi, Mumbai police transferred the case to Delhi police. Immediately after that Delhi Police started investigating and interrogating in the nearby local areas, even in the place she used to work and her friends. They then got to know about where Aftab and Shraddha used to live, on visiting the place they also found Aftab still living there post 6 months of murder. Aftab made up a story during the interrogation that Shraddha had fled away with another man and that now he lives alone, he behaved like a clueless innocent soul in front of the police. Due to the absence of any clues the case was on the verge of closing. On 9 th November, 2022 Vikas came to Delhi and again lodged a missing report in the Delhi police station. The police personnels again went to interrogate Aftab but this time he started to plead to find and bring back Shraddha to him, as she was missing since 18th May, 2022. He even stated that he tried calling and texting, but on further investigation of Aftab’s call history it was sure that he never called Shraddha’s phone after 18 th May, 2022. The only interaction between both the phones was of the amount transfer. Due to this clue Aftab became the prime suspect. Aftab was arrested and brought to the police station after which he was again interrogated and then he verbally accepted that he murdered Shraddha along with all the incidents. They then found the skull in which by Odonatological examination they found two teeth and a jaw in intact structure. On asking about the clothes of Shraddha on the day when Aftab killed her, he said that he dumped half of the clothes in the dustbin below the apartment and the rest half in a nearby dumpyard, so that even though police would get they would not be able to identify who’s did those belong to. When asked about the axe he said that he threw the handle and the iron side on two different sites. On interrogation about the case’s entirety as to why did he make the procedure so lengthy to cut the body and dump he said that if he would have dumped the body as a whole it would be easier for the Forensic experts and police to find out that it belonged to Shraddha. After he had accepted the fact of murdering Shraddha police also found out the diary which Aftab used to maintain during his duration of dumping the body.
On 1 st April, 2023 Aftab was transferred to Delhi’s Saket court for case hearing. Session Judge Manish Khurana Kakkar on the basis of the 6,629 pages of charge-sheet and under IPC section 201, 302 etc. he was sentenced to jail in the “TIHAR JAIL”.
By Adrita Dam