The country on Monday was shaken to its core when news broke that a 28-year-old-man, now identified as Aftab Amin Poonawala, was arrested for allegedly killing his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar, chopping her body into pieces and scattering them across Delhi’s Mehrauli forest over 18 days.
Gruesome details about the murder and how he kept it under wraps for more than five months — he bought a fridge to stuff the pieces of his live-in partner and used incense sticks to keep the foul smell away — have now surfaced after he was arrested by the Delhi Police.
But, who is Aftab Amin Poonawala? What do we know about him? What drove him to take these extreme steps? We take a closer look at this murder most foul and try to unearth the answers from this gruesome manslaughter.
‘Hungry chokro’ Aftab Amin Poonawala
Aftab Amin Poonawalla, 28, originally hails from Mumbai’s Vasai area and according to his social media handles studied at St Francis High School in Vasai and completed his graduation from LS Raheja College.
An ardent foodie and food photographer, he set up an Instagram account dedicated to food and thus became ‘Hungry Chokro’. On his account (@hungrychokro_escapades), which has till date 28,400 followers, he would review restaurants and eateries, thus becoming quite popular on social media.
Besides food blogging, Aftab was interested in bodybuilding. His social media handles also revealed that he was an animal lover and an ardent football fan.
He has also been identified as a supporter of LGBTQIA+ after spotting a photo of him with the “celebrate pride” filter on his Facebook handle.
Falling in love and move to Delhi
According to investigations, Aftab met Shraddha through Bumble, a dating app, in 2019. Shraddha, who worked at a call centre, too was a resident of Vasai and used to stay with her mother, who passed away in 2020, and younger brother.
In October 2019, she left her home and moved in with Aftab. The two are said to have stayed together in Naigaon and then Vasai for some time.
In May, the couple then moved into a single-room apartment in Delhi’s Chhattarpur Pahadi area and took up jobs at a multinational call centre.
However, the love quickly turned toxic.
Fights and an abusive relationship
It is reported that Shraddha began to pressure Aftab for marriage and that’s when the relationship soured. The man was reportedly reluctant to tie to knot and this led to frequent fights between them.
According to an Indian Express report, Shraddha had told a close friend in May over the phone that they had “almost broken up” and she was finding a new place for herself in Delhi.
A friend was quoted as telling the Indian Express, “They were in a live-in relationship since 2019 but it was a very turbulent one, and he assaulted her many times. Finally they decided to give it a last shot and went to Himachal Pradesh this year for a trip. Even there, they were having fights and Shraddha had told us she had decided to break up and their relationship was nearing an end. After the Himachal Pradesh trip, they decided to spend some time in Delhi and I think she was waiting for 16 May, which was their anniversary.”
On 18 May, it is reported that the couple once again argued and it quickly turned physical with Aftab choking her to death.
Wanting to evade arrest, he then chopped her body into 36 pieces and stored them in a fridge he bought. Over the course of the next 18 days, he then would sneak out at night, while his unknowing neighbours slept, and disposed of Shraddha’s body one piece at a time in the Mehrauli forest area.
The murder would have gone unnoticed had it not been for Shraddha’s father, Vikas Madan Walkar, filing a missing persons’ report at Manikpur police station in Vasai.
It was this complaint that led the police to probe and unravel the most gruesome of murders and a cover-up that even astonished the police.
Aftab’s spine-chilling revelations
After the Delhi Police arrested Aftab on Monday, the food blogger revealed that he had been inspired by the American crime show Dexter to murder and store her body.
The police also revealed gory details about the accused’s search history, where he looked for the method of blood cleaning and read about human anatomy.
Aftab reportedly read about the human anatomy so that it could help him in chopping off the body. He also read on Google how to remove blood stains from the floor of the apartment where the couple lived and also how to dispose of the clothes that he had worn while committing the crime.
News agency ANI, citing sources, reported that Aftab used to sleep every day in the same room where he had chopped the body after killing Shraddha. He used to see the face after keeping it in the fridge. Aftab had cleaned the fridge after disposing the body parts.
The cops during their preliminary investigations have also found some bones from Aftab’s house, which will be sent for further examinations.
The police have also begun combing the Mehrauli forest to recover the body parts dumped there and have found 13 parts, so far.
With inputs from agencies