“If Aaftab Poonawala has done everything he has claimed during the interrogation, he must be hanged. I think he deserves stringent punishment for killing my daughter and hiding everything for months. I wish we knew what was going on…It was her friends who informed us…(she was) missing,” said Vikas Walkar, father of the 27-year-old Shraddha Walkar, who was allegedly killed by her live-in partner Poonawala at their rented flat in South Delhi’s Mehrauli in May this year.
The incident came to light six months after the murder and Poonawala was arrested on Saturday. He allegedly told the police that he chopped Shraddha’s body into 30-35 pieces and dumped them in the forest area nearby. He allegedly spent two to three months dumping the pieces.
Both the accused and victim hail from Vasai in Maharashtra’s Palghar district and met on a dating app in 2019.
Senior Delhi Police officers on Tuesday took Poonawala to the Mehrauli forest area to recover Shraddha’s body parts. Sources said they are also contacting common friends and Poonawala’s friends for questioning in connection with the murder.
Additional DCP (South) Ankit Chauhan said, “The accused has been interrogated and he revealed that the two would often fight over petty issues. They shifted to Delhi in May and after a few days, they again got into a fight. The accused is stated to have strangled her. We have recovered suspected body pieces from the forest. Our priority is to recover the body parts and get confirmation from forensic reports. The accused is in police custody.”
Shraddha is survived by her father and brother. Her mother died two years ago. The family said they did not know much about her relationship.
“She was a different person before she met Poonawala. She was sweet and ambitious. I don’t know what happened but she changed after she met him. She stopped talking to me and would rarely speak to her mother. I was worried after her mother’s death. I knew she was in a toxic relationship with that boy. I tried stopping her but she wouldn’t listen,” said Vikas.
“We last spoke over the phone in 2021. I don’t even remember the conversation now but she was not happy. She was upset because I didn’t accept them. We don’t have such inter-religion/inter-caste relationships in our family. How could I? I had told her to not leave Mumbai…I met Poonawala once two years ago. It was the time when my wife had died. My daughter was stressed and he was there but we didn’t talk much. I still can’t believe he hid everything for months,” added Vikas.
He and his son accompanied the police to the Mehrauli forest area to look for body pieces. The family had thought their daughter was missing and was ignoring them. They had approached the Mumbai police in September after her friends told them that her phone had been switched off for 2.5 months and she was not in touch with any of them.
Her family said she completed her graduation in mass media and later worked for a sports retail company before joining a call centre.