Delhi murder: Body parts human, blood traces found in flat, say police

Updated on Nov 16, 2022 05:02 AM IST

Investigators retrieved 13 bone pieces till Monday from spots behind the Chhattarpur Pahadi crematorium where Poonawala allegedly said he dumped parts of Walkar’s body.

Police officers look for Walkar’s body parts in a forested area in Chhatarpur on Tuesday. (HT Photo)
Police officers look for Walkar’s body parts in a forested area in Chhatarpur on Tuesday. (HT Photo)
BySanjeev K Jha and Karn Pratap Singh, New Delhi

Bones found in a forest in Chhattarpur, where the remains of Shraddha Walkar were allegedly dumped, appear to be of a human body, and traces of blood have been lifted from the flat where the 27-year-old woman lived with her partner, Aaftab Amin Poonawala, the prime suspect in the case, said police officers aware of the investigation that has shocked the Capital.

These have now been sent for forensics analysis, and could provide the first prosecutable evidence against Poonawala, who, police say, has confessed to the crime under questioning. The police confession, however, is not admissible in law, and circumstantial evidence may be inadequate to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Also read | Shraddha Walkar murder: Experts explain possible reasons behind gruesome killing

Investigators retrieved 13 bone pieces till Monday from spots behind the Chhattarpur Pahadi crematorium where Poonawala allegedly said he dumped parts of Walkar’s body. “No missing body parts were recovered on Tuesday. The weapon (used to dismember the body) has also not been recovered. One of our doctors, however, confirmed that the 13 decomposed bones are indeed human remains. We will send it to the forensic science laboratory (FSL),” a police officer said, asking not to be named.

An FSL officer, also privy to the investigation, said forensic teams that scoured the alleged crime scene — the couple’s Chhattarpur flat — spotted some traces of bloodstains in the kitchen. Samples were lifted and will be taken for examination later. “The refrigerator was totally clean when our officials went to the flat to lift samples. No evidence could be collected from the refrigerator. From the decomposed bones, we will try to match the DNA samples and match it with the woman’s father. But this process will take at least a week,” this person added, asking not to be named.

The police officer cited above added that, according to the doctor, the bones appeared to be of ribs and the pelvic region, and the blood samples were lifted from wooden cabinets around the kitchen sink and the marble platform. These were collected four days ago, but the FSL officer cited above said that the lab was yet to receive them for testing. The reason for the delay was not clear.

“In the absence of the murder weapon, which is yet to be recovered by the police, it would be difficult for the investigating team to corroborate how Walkar was killed and the exact cause of her death. Also, linking Poonawala as the alleged killer will also be difficult if the murder weapon is not recovered,” said the FSL expert.

The court will only accept reports certified by FSL.

Walkar is believed to have gone missing in May. Estranged from family who opposed her relationship with Poonawala, police say she was killed by her partner on May 18, citing the suspect’s disclosure statement.

During his questioning, the 28-year-old man shared details that will now need to be corroborated — these include the murder by strangulation, the grisly dismembering of the body into dozens of parts, and the meticulous planning in how the remains were dumped without ostensibly raising the suspicion of neighbours or passersby.

On Tuesday, police also recorded the statements of the couple’s mutual friend, Badri (identified only by a single name), who helped them get the flat which they moved into in May, days before the alleged murder.

Poonawala, who works at a call centre in Gurugram, was arrested after he allegedly confessed to strangling Shraddha six months ago. A confession, however, can be used as evidence only if it is made by an accused before a judge.

Police said they will continue to take Poonawala to other spots in the same area where he claims to have thrown the weapon and the body parts.

Officers part of the investigation said the place where he dropped most of the body parts is an open area, which belongs to the Public Works Department but has over time become a jungle and garbage dumping ground for locals.

As part of the probe, police recorded the statement of employees of Home and Kitchen — a shop on 100 Foot Road, Chhattarpur, where Poonawala claimed to have bought a knife on May 19 (a day after the murder) to ostensibly dismember the body. Police, however, say the weapon allegedly used by him was more likely to be a hacksaw or a meat cleaver. Some officers described it simply as a “heavy, sharp object”. The shop, which HT visited, sells both kitchen knives and hacksaws.

“Police had come with the murder accused who said he bought a knife from the shop. My son sits in the shop with other employees. No one remembers him. The CCTV recording is also not available because the man reportedly came to the shop six months ago,” said Sudeep Sachdeva, owner of the shop.

Across the road, police also visited Tilak Electronics, and recorded the statement of the employees who sold an LG refrigerator that was purportedly used to store Walkar’s remains. Police said Poonawala paid for the refrigerator through his credit card on May 19.

With police unable to find any identifiable body parts or the weapon, they are contacting people who knew the couple. “He confessed in his questioning that sometime in August-September, he had started going out on dates. He had met a woman, who even came to the flat where he murdered Shraddha. We will contact the woman after getting her details from Poonawala’s call data records,” said the official quoted in the first instance.

“We may also write to Bumble to see if he befriended other people too in these past 6 months. They could be of vital help for us,” added a second police officer, referring to the dating app through which Poonawala met Walkar and the other woman.

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