On day of murder in Delhi, Aftab Poonawala and Shraddha Walkar fought over cost of house, police say

New Delhi:

Though they had been arguing for months, it was an argument over who would pay for the household expenses that escalated to Aftab Poonawala killing his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar in Delhi’s Mehrauli on May 18 evening, sources said Wednesday based on his interrogation to now.

Shraddha’s friends, as well as the couple’s previous landlords in Vasai near Mumbai, have told NDTV that they had regular arguments, usually over suspicions of cheating.

On May 18, their fight began over buying some household items. It escalated when other troubles came in and sometime between 8 and 10 p.m. Aftab Poonawala strangled Shraddha Walkar to death, police sources said.

“He kept the body in the same room overnight and went to buy a knife and refrigerator the next day,” an officer told NDTV. Police have confirmed the events with statements from shopkeepers.

He allegedly chopped the body into 35 pieces, stored them in a refrigerator, and then dumped them in a nearby jungle for the next 18 days.

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The police go to the flat where Aftab Poonawala and Shraddha Walkar lived, in the Mehrauli district of Delhi.

The story was unraveled last month after Shraddha Walkar’s parents – who had not spoken to her for a year because they did not approve of her interfaith (Hindu-Muslim) relationship – went to the police in Vasai in Maharashtra, their hometown near Mumbai, after some friends told him she had been out of touch for months.

Police officers from Vasai first called Aftab for questioning and later got in touch with the Delhi Police as doubts grew. Eventually, bank transfers from her phone app and some Instagram chats, counted with the location of the cell signal, helped police figure out that Aftab had lied about leaving alone on May 22. He had used her phone and apps to make money and it appears she was alive, probe officials said.

Both worked in call centers and had been living together since at least last year, first near Mumbai, where they had met on dating app Bumble, and then in Delhi since they moved here in May this year.

After spending about a week in a hotel, they had rented a flat by May 14. He allegedly killed her four days later.

Recently, Aftab was fired from his job in Gurugram for being absent without leave, police sources said.

He has led researchers to some bones in the Mehrauli jungle; The police said they sent those and her father’s DNA samples to a forensic lab to check if the bones belong to Shraddha. Some bloodstains were also found in the flat, sources said.

Still, important evidence has yet to be gathered, such as the knife he used; the victim’s severed head or other identifiable body part; the clothes she wore that day; or her phone that Aftab dumped in Maharashtra or Delhi. He has changed his statements, so the police are planning to conduct a lie detector test. A psychiatrist has also been called in to assist during the interrogation.

The suspect will be brought before a local court on Thursday. Police will seek further custody to find more material evidence.

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