Vikas Walkar, father of 27-year-old Shraddha Walkar who was brutally murdered in Delhi by her live-in boyfriend Aaftab Amin Poonawala, said Aaftab should be punished the same way he killed his daughter. “There should be proper investigation, and he should be hanged to death,” he said at a press conference today.
He also called for a probe against his family members, and others who might have been involved in the gruesome murder.
Furthermore, he also questioned the “freedom” that people get on turning 18 years old, saying it should be given more thought. Mr Walkar demanded action against some mobile applications which are “creating trouble”.
“There should be counselling and control over children who turn 18. My daughter told me while leaving home that she was an adult, that’s why I am saying this,” he said, adding that “what happened to him” shouldn’t happen to anyone else.
“Before leaving home, I had a conversation with Shraddha. I said he isn’t from our community, don’t stay with him. She said I want to stay with him,” he added.
Shraddha had met Aaftab in Mumbai through the mobile dating application Bumble. Police had written to Bumble seeking details from Aaftab’s account to help in the investigation, and reached out to other women he met through it while Shraddha’s body parts were still at his Chattarpur apartment.
While satisfied with the direction of the probe now, Mr Walkar said he was upset with laxity initially.
“The probe so far by Delhi and Vasai police is going in the right way. Still, Vasai police Nalasopara police were lax in the probe, I am upset at that. Due to this, my daughter could not be saved. It would have helped me get some proof,” he said.
When asked if they had closed all doors for Shraddha to return home once she started living with Aaftab, something many believe could have left her isolated and unable to seek refuge from the abuse, he said, “I want to know the reason too. I tried to know, but she never answered all my questions.”
On Shraddha’s complaint to the cops in 2019 after he beat her up at a flat they shared, where she said that his family knew about his violent behaviour, he said he wasn’t aware of it. The local police had said Shraddha later gave another written statement that “we no longer have any quarrel” after Aaftab’s parents spoke to them, and asked for no action to be taken.
“Today he tried to kill me by suffocating me, and he scares me and blackmails me that he will kill me, cut me up in pieces and throw me away. It’s been six months he has been hitting me, but I did not have the guts to go to the police because he would threaten to kill me,” the letter said.
Mr Walkar said he spoke to Shraddha last in mid-2021, and asked her how she was. “She said I am OK, I am living in Bangalore, how are you, how is my brother? That’s all,” he said.
“I spoke to Aaftab once on September 26, I asked him where’s my daughter? You were with her for 3 years, if she left you, you should tell me. He said I have no idea where she is. I said it’s your responsibility to tell me if she was with you for three years. He didn’t give any answer,” Mr Walkar added.
Mr Walkar said the Delhi Lieutenant Governor and Delhi police officials, and now Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, have assured that we will get justice.
He also thanked BJP Maharashtra vice president Kirit Somaiya and Shiv Sena Thackeray faction MLA Neelam Gorhe for meeting him.
“Mr Somaiya helped me with transport too. Would like to thank him,” he said.
Aaftab Poonawala, 28, was arrested on November 12 after the woman’s father, who had not spoken to her for almost a year as he was opposed to the couple’s inter-faith (Hindu-Muslim) relationship, went to the cops as her friends told him she hadn’t spoken to them too for months.
A court today extended by 14 days the judicial custody of Aaftab Amin Poonawala, who was produced before the court through videoconferencing, sources said.
In the last hearing in the case on November 26, the court had extended the judicial custody of the accused by 13 days.
Aaftab allegedly sawed Shraddha Walkar’s body into 35 pieces and kept them in a 300-litre fridge for almost three weeks at his residence before dumping them across the city over several days.