Indian chef Aftab Ameen Poonawala confesses to murdering and dismembering his girlfriend

Shraddha Walkar, 26, was reported missing by family in October

Supporters of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal display banners with a portrait of Shraddha Walker, who was allegedly killed by her paramour in New Delhi, during a candlelight vigil held in Ahmedabad on November 17, 2022.  (AFP)
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An Indian chef has confessed to killing and dismembering his girlfriend “in the heat of the moment”.

A court heard that Aftab Ameen Poonawala, who is 28 and from New Delhi, strangled his partner Shraddha Walkar, 26, in May and then cut her body into 35 pieces with a saw and a cleaver over two days.

Mr Poonawala was arrested earlier this month and on Tuesday appeared before a Delhi court by video link.

He confessed to killing Ms Walkar and has given police the locations where he dumped her body parts.

Mr Poonawala said that he could not recall all the details of the incident but is co-operating with police, according to his lawyer, Avinash Kumar.

The couple met in Mumbai in 2019 and started living together.

Ms Walkar’s parents, who were separated, did not approve of the relationship. Later the couple moved to the capital. Her mother died three years ago.

Her father was unaware that his daughter had moved to a different city. It was in September when a friend of the dead woman told her brother that she had been out of touch for more than two months, prompting the family to begin looking for her.

Ms Walkar had carried out no bank transactions and her social media accounts were inactive.

A missing person case was filed in October in Mumbai and Mr Poonawala was called in for questioning. He told police that Ms Walkar left their home after a fight.

People gather near an entrance leading to a Delhi forest, where Indian chef Aftab Ameen Poonawala said he disposed of his girlfriend's remains. EPA

Mr Poonawala was detained by Delhi Police on November 10 and confessed to murdering her.

He told officers that he bought a fridge to store the body parts, which he gradually disposed of in a forested area of South Delhi’s Mehrauli district over two weeks, leaving home every night at 2am.

Police have recovered human remains from the forest and have sent 13 bones, the base of a skull and a jawbone for forensic examination to see if they match Ms Walkar’s DNA.

Police are also searching for the murder weapons, which Mr Poonawala said were disposed of in bushes.

In the absence of the vital evidence such as the murder weapons, Ms Walkar’s remains, bloodstained clothes or her phone, police have asked to carry out a lie-detector test on Mr Poonawala.

Last week, police secured court permission to conduct a drugs test on Mr Poonawala but forensic experts asked for a polygraph test first. Tha accuracy of polygraph tests varies wildly depending on examiner and testing conditions.

Once the reports and associated evidence have been gathered, a court will decide whether to proceed with the case. No timeline for this has been given.

Updated: November 22, 2022, 10:37 AM
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