Aaftab killed Shraddha in heat of moment, but planned disposal in detail: Police
Aaftab Amin Poonawala reportedly told the police that removing Shraddha Walkar’s corpse from the first-floor flat appeared risky, so he decided to cut the body into pieces and dispose the parts across the city.
Just three days after they moved into a rented flat in Chhatarpur Pahadi in south Delhi, after a month-long vacation to repair their strained relationship, 28-year-old Aaftab Amin Poonawala and his girlfriend Shraddha Vikas Walkar, 27, had a heated argument, said police officers aware of the matter. Poonawala, they said, suspected that Shraddha was involved with another man.
The argument turned into a fight and they even exchanged blows. This purportedly enraged Poonawala so much so that he allegedly pinned Walkar in the bed, sat on her chest and strangled her to death –in a fit of rage and without any prior planning, said the police, quoting Poonawala’s disclosure.
However, the police added that everything Poonawala did later on – chopping up her body, disposing of the pieces after midnight and keeping her social media accounts alive – was improvised.
“Although we have reasons to believe that Poonawala killed Walkar in a fit of rage, he claimed that he panicked after she died. He then spent all night planning the ways he could dispose of the body without getting caught by local residents or the police. He then recalled all that he had seen on TV shows, including Dexter, and decided to put them to use,” said an investigator, citing Poonawala’s revelations.
Chopping and preserving the body parts
Poonawala reportedly told the police that removing Walkar’s corpse from the first-floor flat appeared risky, so he decided to cut the body into pieces and dispose the parts across the city.
For this, Poonawala went to a nearby market around 10am on May 19, a day after the murder, and bought a hacksaw and three metal cutting blades for ₹150 from a kitchen utensils store. He also bought black plastic garbage bags and paid in cash, said the officer.
Then, he needed to figure out how to preserve the body parts.
“Poonawala visited an appliance shop and bought a refrigerator for ₹19,000 and used an online service to pay. The fridge was delivered to his flat within an hour. He made sure that the labourers who carried the fridge to his house did not enter the flat,” the officer said, requesting not to be identified.
According to his disclosure statement, Poonawala first bolted the main door and the adjacent window from inside and then dragged Walkar’s body to the bathroom from the bedroom, where he removed her clothes, turned on the tap and then started chopping up her body with the hacksaw.
“He turned the water on for two reasons – to let the blood flow into the drain and to ensure the sounds as he chopped up the body did not make its way to neighbours. Poonawala told us that cutting the body with the hacksaw was difficult, which is why he took two days. During those two days, he did not go out and ordered his food online,” added the officer.
After chopping the body, Poonawala allegedly washed all the parts with water and packed them in the black garbage bags, which he kept in the fridge.
Getting rid of the body parts
Around 2am on May 21, he kept one bag with a couple of chopped body parts in his backpack and left the flat. He walked nearly a kilometre and dumped the body parts in a forested area near Chhatarpur Pahadi crematorium.
He did not throw the garbage bag along with the body. Instead, he disposed of the bag in trash bin on the way back to his flat, the police said.
“Poonawala told us that he disposed of the body parts for three months. The last body parts he discarded was the head and parts of her torso. During that period, he also got rid of her clothes and dumped them in garbage bins across Chhattarpur,” said the officer.
He did the same with his blood-stained clothes as well as the hacksaw, which he allegedly threw into a forested area near Dhan Mill, a kilometre or so from his house.
Masking the stench
Officers confirmed that Poonawala did not employ a domestic help. To mask the smell from Walkar’s remains, Poonawala told the police that he bought incense sticks every day and lit them across the flat for days.
The police said Poonawala told them he used hypochlorous acid and floor-cleaning chemicals to clean up the kitchen, bathroom, the floor, and the fridge.
Even then, investigators on Tuesday recovered traces of blood from the kitchen.
Investigators said that Poonawala told them that after killing Walkar he kept her cellphone on and used her Instagram account to message her friends. He, however, turned down their calls every time, making excuses every time.
After May 31, he switched off her cellphone and threw it into a river while travelling to Mumbai. After returning from Mumbai, he started working at a call centre in Gurugram, making around ₹52,000 a month.
“We have learnt that Poonawala was also using Walkar’s credit card after her death. He also paid off her credit card dues to ensure that nobody suspected she was not alive,” said another investigator, who asked not to be named.
He did not cook at home and ordered food online, said the police.
Poonawala also said that a few weeks after the murder, he became active on the same dating app through which he met Walkar – Bumble.
“He told us that he met another woman on the app and the two started dating,” an investigator said.
She even visited the flat where Walkar was killed, the officer added, after Poonawala was done disposing of any last traces of his previous girlfriend.