Delhi murder: Shraddha’s friends say she wanted to leave Aftab ‘but couldn’t...’

By | Edited by Chandrashekar Srinivasan, New Delhi
Nov 15, 2022 02:36 PM IST

During interrogation, accused Aftab Poonawala told Delhi Police that he and Shraddha Walkar had a fight when she suspected him of having an affair and pressed him to marry her. He lost his temper during the argument and strangled her by sitting on her chest.

A common friend of Aftab Poonawala - who allegedly murdered his live-in girlfriend Shraddha Walkar and chopped her body into at least 35 pieces to dispose it of - has been called for questioning by Delhi Police. The friend - Lakshman Nadar - had set alarm bells ringing for Shraddha's family after he told her father he had had no contact with her for nearly three months.

Aftab Poonawala and Shraddha Walkar. (HT Photo)(HT_PRINT)
Aftab Poonawala and Shraddha Walkar. (HT Photo)(HT_PRINT)

It was after Nadar's message that Shraddha's family tried (and failed) to speak to her, and then checked her social media to find no updates in more than two months. This prompted the father to register a complaint with Mumbai Police that was later transferred to Delhi.

Nadar - described by media reports as a close friend of Shraddha - worked with her at a call centre in 2019; that was the year she met Aftab on a dating app. The couple then worked together at a store selling fitness equipment and clothes.

According to Nadar, the couple's families disapproved of their relationship. During this time Aftab and Shraddha lived together in a rented accommodation in Naigon East for nearly two years.

Nadar has claimed the couple had frequent arguments; in 2020, after one such incident, her friends stopped short of reporting Aftab to the police.

"Shraddha sent me a WhatsApp message... telling me if I did not get her out of her house, Aftab would kill her. We warned him but stopped short of reporting him to the police, as Shraddha told us not to. We respected her wishes and left," Nadar said.

Both Nadar and another friend - Rajat Shukla - said the couple were initially happy.

Speaking to news agency ANI, Rajat said the fighting began after Shraddha wanted to leave him but “couldn't do so”. “I was shaken to the core of my soul that my friend has been murdered. She told us in 2019 she was in a relationship since 2018... initially they lived happily but Shraddha started saying Aftab beats her. She wanted to leave but couldn't do so.”

He also stated it had become “very difficult” for Shraddha, whose life had “become like hell”. Rajat said contact with Aftab and Shraddha had almost ceased after they moved to Delhi.

Nadar said he last spoke to Shraddha in May and was “worried” after she did not return calls or respond to messages when he tried to contact her in July and August.

Following their arrival in the national capital, Aftab and Shraddha rented a two-bedroom apartment in Chhattarpur and their neighbours told Hindustan Times of their disbelief.

During his interrogation Aftab told police of a fight on May 18 - Shraddha suspected him of an affair and pressed him on marriage. He claimed to have lost his temper and strangled her.

He told police he used a mini-saw (which is yet to be recovered) to cut her body into pieces and purchased a refrigerator to store those. Over the next few weeks, he left home late each night to dump parts in forested areas in and around the city.

He also told police he Googled tips on cleaning blood and human anatomy, and obtained ideas to dispose of corpses from popular American crime drama ‘Dexter’.

Earlier on Tuesday, Delhi Police took Aftab to one of the places where he dumped parts of Shraddha’s body and, recovered at least 10 samples that may be human remains; these have been sent for forensic analysis, police sources told ANI. They also said that the accused had dumped Shraddha's phone and even used her Instagram account till June to make it look like she is alive.

Meanwhile, Vikash Walkar, Shraddha's father has demanded the death penalty for Aftab.

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    A journalist with 7+ years of experience, I pretty much inhale and exhale news – figuratively speaking. Cooking, reading and playing with my dog take up the remaining hours of my normal day. I have an inclination for true crime stories, and love listening to such podcasts.

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