MUMBAI: The 28-year-old food blogger who killed his 26-year-old partner and cut the body into 35 pieces had once trained as a chef and was skilled at cutting meat. Once Aaftab Amin Poonawala strangled Shraddha Walkar in their Delhi apartment, in a fit of rage, he used a meat cleaver on the body, laying out an elaborate plan to evade suspicion and cover his tracks. Out every night at 2am, he even fed body parts to stray animals in hopes of destroying the evidence.


In an effort to ward off suspects, according to police, Poonawala used to chat with Shraddha’s friends via her Instagram account. “She had also paid off her credit card bills through June to avoid suspicion,” an investigator said. She cleaned the fridge and the room with chemicals to get rid of any smell. She may have used formaldehyde to store the pieces, a police officer said.
Police are investigating whether Poonawala used Shraddha’s cell phone for a few months after the murder. Laxman Nadar, Shraddha’s childhood friend who alerted her family, said in her statement to police that she last heard from Walkar via text message in June, although she was killed in May.
Cops are still searching for the body parts and have only found about 14 which will be examined by forensic officials and sent for a DNA match.

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Both Poonawala and Walkar were from Vasai and had met on a dating app and moved into a rented flat in Naigaon together in 2019. Walkar worked for a computer call center in Malad while Poonawala took on graphic designing assignments. In March 2022, they moved to Delhi. Returning from a holiday in northern India, Shraddha went into solitary confinement in May.
Though Walkar didn’t keep in touch with her parents — she lost her mother in January 2020 — she did frequently reach out to her friends. Poonawala, however, used to visit her parents’ house.
It was Nadar who worried when he lost touch with her. He informed the family in August that her cell phone had been turned off since July and that she hadn’t responded to her text messages. On October 6, Vikas filed an application with the Vasai DCP’s office saying that his daughter was unreachable and that his social media accounts had remained silent.

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On 12 October, Manickpur Police filed a missing persons report. “Aaftab was the prime suspect when the father told us about the live-in relationship,” Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Sanap said. Poonawala, when called for questioning, traveled from Delhi to Vasai on two occasions. He told the cops that since they were in a live-in relationship, he didn’t stop her when she insisted on leaving him. She claimed Walkar dated other men while she lived with him. The cops weren’t convinced and sensed that something was wrong. They finally contacted their Delhi counterparts on 8 November, launching an investigation by Delhi Police.
“A report was filed at the Mehrauli Police Station on Nov. 9. The next day, a kidnapping FIR was filed, based on the statement by Shraddha’s father,” a senior police officer said. “A team consisting of ACP Vinod Narang, Inspector PC Yadav and others was formed to investigate the case. After an initial investigation, Aaftab was caught using technical surveillance and arrested. He collapsed and confessed,” they said. said the cops.
According to additional DCP Ankit Chauhan, Poonawala and Shraddha had visited the hill stations in March and April and subsequently decided to stay in Delhi. Their relationship had soured and they had frequent fights. The trip to the mountains was an attempt to bury the differences and start over. It was in this process that they decided to stay in Delhi for a while. However, Shraddha was killed within weeks. The cops are investigating whether getting Shraddha to stay in Delhi was part of Aaftab’s plan to get rid of her. She had started working in a call center in Delhi after her murder.

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Aaftab had promised to marry her, but when Shraddha asked him to do so, he refused, policemen said. Poonawala said Shraddha was talking to someone on the phone and also making video calls. Investigators say he has shown no remorse. “He was confident he wouldn’t be caught,” said one officer.
“We found out that the knife and cooler were bought at the local market,” the officer said. “He used to keep ice cream, cold drinks and other foods in the same refrigerator.”
The police are trying to establish a clear motive, but prima facie a souring relationship, marriage pressure from Shraddha and suspicion of infidelity on both sides led to an out-of-control brawl, which led to murder, they have said the cops. Aaftab was registered in the IPC sections of murder, kidnapping and destruction of evidence.

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Nadar, however, told police that Poonawala was violent and had been warned when he was in Vasai. “Earlier this year, he had sent me a message saying he feared for his life as Poonawala was becoming excessively violent,” said Nadar, who along with some friends landed at their rented house in Naigaon and warned Poonawala. “We advised Walkar to file a police report against him, but she refused,” Nadar recalled.

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