Aftab Poonawala, confessing to Delhi Police that he had made attempts previously to kill Shraddha Walkar, has revealed further how he used to entrap girls. In a detailed confession, as reported by multiple media houses, the Muslim love jihadi said he checked Shraddha’s Instagram to identify other women whom he could entice.
All women that Aftab targeted were Hindu, much as the mainstream media is loath to identifying the case as one of love jihad, a societal phenomenon where Muslim men target Hindu and Christian women — the second section of the demography in Kerala — for courtship, marriage, fun without commitment or (sometimes) marriage. The English language media says it’s a conspiracy theory and such things don’t happen; Hindi and regional language media have been acknowledging the scourge for some years now.
Police said Aftab had left behind a trail of Instagram chats and bank payments to project that Shraddha had ditched him, but that trail led to him instead. At first, after Shraddha’s father complained to the police in Vasai near Mumbai last month, the cops summoned Aftab for questioning on 26 October.
The suspect told the police that she had left their rented flat in Delhi’s Mehrauli after a quarrel on 22 May. Actually, he had murdered her four days before that. This was barely two weeks after they had moved to Delhi.
Aftab and Shraddha, originally residents of Vasai, had met over a dating app in 2019. After living together in Mumbai, where they worked at a call centre, they went for a long holiday in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand early this year. They moved to Delhi in May, 10 days before he murdered her. Her friends have since said she had mentioned Aftab had been violent during fights as she suspected he had been unfaithful.
The victim’s Hindu parents had not kept in touch with her since 2021, as they were upset with her relationship with a Muslim man. Her father was alarmed last month when some of her friends told him she was no longer in touch with them either.
As reported earlier, Aftab was luring girls to his accommodation in Mehrauli in Delhi even at the time when Shraddha’s dismembered body was stashed in a refrigerator in the house. He has so far led the police to at least 10 of the 35 pieces of her body that he had thrown in a forest near their rented flat over 18 days. The head of the victim’s body is yet to be traced.
Aftab claimed that on the final day when he killed Shraddha, he had lost his cool, which does not make it a cold-blooded murder and hence also does add up if his other confession that he had made attempts to her life earlier is true. Police sources say that the excuse of “rage” is often used to pre-empt the possibility that the court would pronounce a death sentence, considering it one of the rarest of rare cases, which are perforce cold-blooded murders.
As he told the cops she’d taken only her mobile phone — leaving clothes and other belongings behind — investigators tracked the phone activity, call details and signal location.
They found that between 22 and 26 May, Rs 54,000 had been transferred from Shraddha Walkar’s account to Aftab Poonawala’s, using her mobile application for banking. The location was Mehrauli, the area where they used to stay together. This heightened suspicions as he’d told the police that he wasn’t in touch with her “since she left on 22 May”.
The police called him for questioning again early this month when he told the cops that he had made the bank transfers as he had her passwords. He had been paying her credit card bills, too, so that bank officials won’t go to her Mumbai address.
The cops, meanwhile, found that Aftab had used her Instagram account to chat with her friends. In a chat dated 31 May, the phone’s location was Mehrauli again, sources said. Officers from Vasai’s Manikpur police station then contacted Delhi Police that detained him and asked if Shraddha had left Aftab on 22 May, how her location was still Mehrauli. Aftab broke down and narrated the horrifying details.