Delhi murder: Police scour Mehrauli, nearby areas for clues to tie open ends

Published on Nov 15, 2022 12:27 AM IST

Senior police officers said that the investigation was in the “early stages”, and that they were collecting evidence

A policeman near the fridge, which was allegedly used to keep Shraddha Walkar's severed body parts after she was murdered by her live-in partner, Aftab Ameen Poonawala. (PTI)
A policeman near the fridge, which was allegedly used to keep Shraddha Walkar's severed body parts after she was murdered by her live-in partner, Aftab Ameen Poonawala. (PTI)
ByKarn Pratap Singh and Sanjeev K Jha

New Delhi: Besides an alleged confession statement and 13 bones recovered from near Chhatarpur Pahadi crematorium and Dhan Mill, the Delhi Police have little to either establish the guilt of suspect Aaftab Amin Poonawala in the alleged murder of Shradda Vikas Walkar or take the investigation forward.

Senior police officers said that the investigation was in the “early stages”, and that they were collecting evidence. They said that the recovered bones have been sent to the forensic laboratory, where a DNA profiling will be done to ascertain if they belonged to Walkar. As of now. the police are only depending on the circumstantial evidence and disclosures of the suspect.

“We have taken the blood samples of Walkar’s father for DNA analysis. If the parent’s DNA matches with that of the DNA collected from the bones, it will be confirmed that the bones belonged to he victim,” said a senior police officer, who asked not to be named.

Forensic experts said that linking the recovered bones with the missing or dead woman (Walkar) will not be an easy task, given the fact that the recoveries have been made almost six months after the alleged crime. They believe that before establishing the crime and its perpetrator, the police should first corroborate Poonawala’s statement with other evidence.

“I think the investigating team should also conduct a psycholgical test of the arrested man to scientifically verify his claims regarding the murder. As far as the identification of the deceased from the recovered bones is confirmed, we will first have to check if we could retrieve a sample that can be worked with. Also, we will have to analyse DNA from all bone samples. It’s a tedious task but possible,” said Deepa Verma, director, Delhi Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL).

The police were also yet to establish the weapon used to chop the body, a key evidence in the case. According to officers, it could be a “heavy, sharp weapon” or a hack saw. However, nothing has been recovered yet. Also, no belongings of Walkar were recovered from the Chhattarpur house where she lived with Poonawala.

“Poonawala has claimed that he purchased the weapon from a local shop. We will identify the shop and record the statement of the shopkeeper to ascertain if he remembers seeing Poonawala purchasing the weapon from his shop,” said the officer.

He said the police will also verify purchase details of the fridge, in which the chopped body parts were allegedly stored. Police said they will record the shopkeeper’s statement and verify the payment that was reportedly done online, he added.

A team of forensic experts visited the crime scene on Saturday to check for evidence, including fingerprints, blood, skin, etc. A second police officer said that forensic experts noticed some “blood spots” in the flat, and lifted the samples. The experts will ascertain if the blood belonged to Poonawala or Walkar, the officer said.

In his alleged statement to the police, Poonwala said that he cleaned the entire flat using toilet cleaning acid repeatedly for a few days to remove blood stains.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a retired joint commissioner of Delhi Police said that till the forensic reports are out the police will not have any concrete clues to establish the authenticity of the recovered remains. “It may be the remains of some animals. It may be the remains of another man or woman. So even if the remains have been recovered on the instance of the arrested man, the police should not make any claims. Who can take the guarantee that the remains thrown by the man will be the same after six months,” he said.

The retired officer also said that it will be tough for the police and prosecution to prove the accused guilty with “such scarce proof”. “Even the weapon used in commission of crime is yet to be recovered. Even if it was a hack saw or a chopper, it is really unpalatable to bank on the claim of the accused that he chopped off the dead body in multiple pieces. To ensure conviction in the case, the police need more forensic and foolproof evidence,” he added.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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