The Shraddha Walker murder case is one of the most high-profile criminal investigations in recent Indian history. Shraddha Walker, a 25-year-old software engineer, was found murdered in her apartment in Mumbai in 2019. The case gripped the nation and attracted intense media attention due to the shocking nature of the crime and the victim’s high-profile job.
A love affair that turned fatal, Shraddha Walker shifted from Mumbai to Delhi on May 8, 2022, with Aftab Poonawala to start a new life. Shraddha’s father lodged a missing report in the Palghar police station, from where the case got transferred to Mehrauli police station in Chattarpur on November 9, 2022. It was found after the police investigation that Shraddha was brutally murdered by Aaftab.
THE HORRIFYING NIGHT
On the night of May 18, Shraddha and Aaftab had an argument in their Chattarpur residence over a matter that had put a strain on their relationship. While Shraddha desired to get married, Aaftab was hesitant. However, the altercation became so heated that Aaftab ended up strangling Shraddha to death. Following this, he pondered over ways to dispose of the body.
The next day, on May 19, he procured a new, large refrigerator and a big saw from the local market. He proceeded to cut Shraddha’s body into smaller parts in the bathroom and obtained polythene bags to contain the pieces. Unfortunately, due to the hot weather in May, the body started emanating a foul odour. Aaftab used room fresheners to try and cover up the unpleasant smell.
AAFTAB’S CONFRONTATION WITH POLICE
Aaftab spent 18 days disposing of the body parts in various locations throughout Delhi, repeating the same exercise every day after 2 am. He carefully chose different locations to prevent anyone from identifying the victim even if they found a body part. Throughout this period, he avoided interacting with his neighbours.
The Mehrauli Police were now tasked with locating the missing body parts, and they accompanied Aaftab to the areas where he had disposed of them. To date, they have managed to recover some of the body parts.
DELHI COURT’S DECISION
On May 9, 2023, Court in Delhi accused Aaftab Poonawala of murdering his live-in partner, Shraddha Walkar, and then dismembering her body. Additional sessions judge Manisha Khurana Kakkar at the Saket courts stated that there was sufficient evidence to try Aftab for both the offences under the IPC sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence).
Aftab pleaded not guilty and requested a trial after the charges were read out in court. His lawyer raised two objections, stating that the charges under IPC sections 302 and 201 had to be alternate charges and that the prosecution’s evidence was not substantive.
Both of Aaftab’s arguments were rejected by the court, which emphasized that the stage of leading evidence cannot be skipped and the matter cannot be prejudged. The court dismissed Aaftab’s argument that the charges could not be filed together and pointed out that the prosecution had presented a significant amount of circumstantial evidence, including last-seen evidence, the discovery of bloodstains in the refrigerator and kitchen, and the recovery of hair and the jawbone of the victim after five to six months of the murder.
The court also noted that the defence’s claim that no substantial evidence had been presented by the prosecution was unfounded, as the prosecution had relied on corroborative and circumstantial evidence such as the recovery of body parts, digital trails, bloodstains, DNA profiling reports, voice recordings, and witness statements.
“Accordingly, the charge for the offences under Section 302/201 IPC is framed against the accused. The charge is read over and explained to the accused in the presence of his counsel and the accused has submitted that he has understood the charge. Thereafter, the accused has stated he does not plead guilty and he has claimed trial” the court said.
The next hearing is scheduled for June I for the trial to begin.
Aaftab Poonawala is accused of committing a bone-chilling murder in which he allegedly killed his live-in partner, Shraddha Walker, and then dismembered her body into pieces before getting rid of them in the forest near Mehrauli. This love story that turned into a horrifying event had its complications from the very beginning, with inter-religious marriage arguments, fleeing away from home, Aaftab not willing to marry Shraddha, domestic violence and later escalating to death and brutal ways of getting rid of the shreds of evidence. This case has Shraddha’s entire family as well as the entire nation in shock.