As we struggle with making sense of the barbarity of Shraddha Walkar’s murder, the ongoing investigations have taken a number of twists and turns. Aaftab Poonawala killed his live-in partner Shraddha on the evening of May 18 by strangling her and later chopped her body into 35 pieces. He stored the parts in a 300-liter-fridge for over 20 days after going around the national capital disposing off bits and pieces of her corpse. Here’s a reverse chronological sequence of how the case has unfolded so far:
November 22: Amidst great hue and cry over the ongoing probe, Delhi High Court today dismissed a plea that sought to transfer the case to CBI. Dismissing the petition as a “publicity” interest litigation, the Court questioned “Why Should We Doubt Police?”
The Delhi Police in turn assured the court that “80% of the investigation is complete. The probe is being handled by senior officials.”
On the other hand, Aftab Poonewala who became a household name after killing and chopping her live-in partner Shraddha into 35 pieces was produced in Saket court as his custody of five days was over. He told the court that he killed his partner in “heat of the moment” and promised to cooperate with the police.
In a parallel development, the Delhi police today also got the permission of the court to conduct a polygraph test on Aftab. The police approached the court yesterday and within 24 hours were granted the permission.
A Polygraph test is conducted to identify whether the person has committed any crime. No medicine is being used here. The subject is attached to a machine and questions are asked to her/ him related to the incident. There are continuous variations observed and those are drawn to reach the conclusion.
November 21: A day earlier, a police official told PTI that weeks after murdering Shraddha, Poonawala shifted belongings from his flat in Maharashtra's Palghar district to Delhi in 37 boxes in June and paid Rs 20,000 for it.
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November 20: In continuing with the search for the victim’s scattered body parts, the police took Aaftab to the flat where he and Shraddha lived to gather more evidence. Investigators have recovered a bag of Shraddha's belongings, including her shoes and clothes from the house.
Over the last week, he has also been taken to the Mehrauli forest to show where he dumped the body parts. Furthermore, the police on Sunday afternoon began draining a pond in South Delhi's Maidangarhi to retrieve the remains of Shraddha. The exercise began following Aaftab's claim that he had thrown Shraddha's head and some other remains in the water body.
November 19: Delhi Police team arrived in Vasai in Maharashtra, Sharaddha’s native place, where the couple also resided before shifting to their Mehrauli flat in May. The police recorded statements of four persons in Palghar - two men from whom Shraddha had sought assistance after she was assaulted by Aaftab in 2020, a former manager of the call centre in Mumbai where Shraddha worked, and her female friend.
The police also attempted to find Aaftab’s family, but they were “untraceable.” Police on Saturday spoke with some office-bearers of the housing society where the Poonawalas lived and also visited their flat only to find it locked.
The same day, former Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava said the scene of the crime has been cleaned up and police are depending on the confession of the accused, who seems to be a "clever" person. He added that "It is going to be a very difficult case and will require the help of all organs of the criminal justice system to nail him down.”
November 18: In all, the Delhi Police on Friday sent teams to Maharashtra, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh to hunt for evidence in the case.
Simultaneously, blood samples of Shraddha’s father and brother were collected in order to match them with body parts recovered till now. So far, Delhi Police has found parts of a skull and some bones of Shraddha in a nearby forest area of Delhi and neighboring Gurgaon.
November 17: A Delhi court on Thursday extended Poonawala’s custody for five more days and also allowed his narco analysis test to be conducted to unravel the case.
Also Read | What Is Narco Test? Why Shraddha Walkar Murder Accused Aaftab Poonawala Has To Undergo It?
Meanwhile, around 100 advocates practicing at Saket district courts in New Delhi, assembled around 3 pm in front of the court where Poonawala was produced. They shouted slogans demanding award of death penalty for him.
November 16: Two days after Poonawala was arrested and taken into custody, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Mumbai, Ram Kadam, on Wednesday wrote a letter to Delhi Police, urging them to probe into the possible "Love Jihad" angle behind the murder of Shraddha Walkar.
Further, activists of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its affiliated organisations on Wednesday held a protest in Nagpur against Poonawala, seeking the death penalty for him.
The same day, a Manikpur police official told PTI that the accused had appeared confident with no trace of remorse on his face when he was called for questioning on November 3 and last month. Aaftab had been interrogated with regards to a missing person complaint filed by Shraddha’s father.
November 14: Aaftab was arrested by the Delhi police and following his confession, he was taken into custody. Subsequently, the police launched a search for the victim's body parts in the Mehrauli forest area and recovered a few human bones.
November 8: The murder case was transferred to Delhi Police from Mumbai. Shraddha’s father, Vikas Walkar lodged a complaint at Mehrauli police station and an FIR was registered under section 365 (kidnapping) of the Indian Penal Code.
August 2022: Three months earlier, Vikas had lodged a missing person complaint for his daughter with the Mumbai police at Manikpur Police station. Shraddha’s friend, Laxman, and her brother raised the alarm after her phone remained continuously switched off for months.
At the time, Aaftab told the Manikpur police that Shraddha had left him after a quarrel in May and he wasn’t aware of her whereabouts.
June 2022: Weeks after killing his live-in partner, Aaftab continued to use Shraddha’s social media to maintain contact with her friends until June 9.
May 20: Aaftab bought a 300-liter refrigerator to store the chopped-up body parts of his partner. Over the next 16 days, Aaftab stepped out late at night to dispose of them across Delhi's Mehrauli forest.
May 18: Shraddha and Aaftab had a heated argument, allegedly on the subject of marriage. Poonawala brutally murdered his partner in the “heat of the moment.”
May 15: The couple shifted to their Delhi flat. Shraddha's friend, Laxman also told the police that through their relationship, the two often got into heated arguments and once she even had to be rescued from her Chhattarpur house because she was scared Aaftab would "kill her that night."
April 2022: Aaftab and Shraddha take a trip to Himachal Pradesh together, reportedly to sort out their differences. Before moving to Delhi a month later, the duo lived in Vasai together but Shraddha’s family was opposed to their relationship. The two met in 2019 through an online dating app and Aaftab claimed they started living together soon after.