By Quaid Najmi
Palghar (Maharashtra), Nov 14 (IANS): A childhood friend of Shraddha Walkar, who was killed by her boyfriend and hacked to pieces in New Delhi, had first alerted her family in Maharashtra's Palghar of her "missing" status in September and that kickstarted the investigations into the sensational murder, a top police official said here on Monday.
Shraddha, 29, was murdered by her boyfriend and live-in partner, who then chopped her body into some 35 pieces, stuffed them into a fridge and then scattered them across the national capital over 18 days to avoid detection.
The Delhi Police have finally cracked what turned out to be an 8-month-old macabre "missing-cum-murder" case of a love affair gone sour by nabbing the accused, Aftab Poonawala.
According to Inspector Sampatrao Patil of Manikpur Police Station in Vasai town, the woman was in a friendship and affair with the accused since 2019.
The series of events started after they had reportedly met through a friendship app, and finally culminating in her brutal killing that has shaken the Vasai town.
"Shraddha Walkar was working in a BPO (call centre) in Malad where she came in contact with Poonawala. They became friends and also had an affair," said Patil.
Later, the woman - who lived in Evershine City in Vasai East - sought her family's permission to get married to Poonawala - who lived in Diwanman Complex in Vasai west.
However, there was strong objection from her family and Shraddha walked out of her home to go and live with Poonawala in a place in the Naigaon suburban area nearby.
Everything seemed to be normal and though estranged, she came and lived with her family for a fortnight when her mother died some time ago, and returned to Poonawala.
However, it was only in September 2022, when Laxman Nadar - Shraddha's childhood friend - told her brother that she had gone incommunicado' for over a couple of months.
On learning this, her father, Vikas Walkar called Nadar to his home for full details when he revealed that she had been in touch with him but for the past two-three months, her phone was off and she had shifted with Poonawala to New Delhi.
The alarmed family also tried but couldn't contact her and Vikas Walkar submitted an application to the Vasaigaon Police Station, which directed him to Manikpur Police Station.
"We accepted the application from her father and suo moto registered a 'missing' complaint, and set up a special team to track her down," Patil said.
Since there was nothing much, the police initiated a tech-intel probe to discover that Nadar's information was correct and the family's apprehensions were proved true.
"Since May, her phone was off, she had gone off social media like Facebook, even her bank accounts were not operated. We also called Poonawala who came to Vasai and we have recorded his full statement," said Patil.
Poonawala admitted to the police here that he and Shraddha were live-in partners for the past few years and then moved to Delhi where they resided in the Chhattarpur area, and he was allowed to go.
The duo's relationship apparently went sour some months ago after she demanded that they get married, enraging Poonawala who ultimately killed her.
Not convinced by Poonawala's version, Walkar went to Delhi to search for his daughter last week and even sought help from the local police.
Meanwhile, Mira Bhayander-Vasai Virar Police Commissioner Sadanand Date is understood to have spoken with the Delhi Police Commissioner to assist in the matter.
The Delhi Police finally zeroed in on Poonawala, arrested him and he confessed to the diabolic crime that sent shockwaves among the people in the national capital and in Palghar.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at email@example.com)