Delhi food blogger chops girlfriend into 35 pieces

A Delhi-based food blogger has been arrested for allegedly murdering his girlfriend, chopping up her body and keeping her remains in a newly-bought refrigerator for weeks.

Delhi senior police officer Ankit Chauhan told reporters that the couple had an argument in mid-May and Aftab Ameen Poonawala's anger got the better of him. He strangled and stabbed his partner Shraddha Walkar.

NDTV said the suspect was inspired by the American crime show Dexter, which had a criminal who stored his victims in a refrigerated truck.

Aftab, 28, was nabbed by the Delhi Police on Nov 12 for killing Ms Shraddha, 26, chopping her body into 35 pieces and scattering them in a nearby forest.

Sources told NDTV that Aftab has revealed more details of the horrific crime in police custody.

Aftab reportedly told the police: "Yes, I killed her." He spoke only in English since his arrest and claimed he could not speak Hindi.

Aftab is in a prison in Delhi's Mehrauli. Police said he dumped her body parts in the Mehrauli forest area over 18 days, going out at 2am every day for the grisly task.

A Delhi Police team on Tuesday collected 10 samples suspected to be human from the Mehrauli forest area.

Sources said the samples were sent for forensic examination and if they are confirmed to be human, they will be matched with the DNA of Shraddha's father.

"Further search is going on to find more evidence," said the sources.

"They were in a live-in relationship for three years and moved to Delhi, after which Shraddha started pressuring the man to marry her.

"The two quarrelled frequently and things used to get out of control. In this particular instance that occurred on May 18, the man lost his temper, sat on her chest and strangled her."

According to the police, Aftab hid the body in the bathroom and set about researching how to get rid of it without being caught. He searched online how to cut up a body and the best way of disposing of evidence without leaving DNA traces.

The police said that he bought a 300-litre fridge from a neighbourhood shop, then cut up Ms Shraddha's body. The knife he used has yet to be found.

He used sulphur hypochlorite to wash off the blood, hoping it would be enough to remove all traces of DNA.

He then threw his and Shraddha's bloodied clothes in a garbage van.

The police said that within two weeks, Aftab started dating another woman whom he took home - with Ms Shraddha's body parts still in the apartment.

The trained chef had met Ms Shraddha, a call centre worker at a multinational firm, on the dating app Bumble.

He met the other woman on the same app. When he took her home, he moved Ms Shraddha's body parts to a cupboard.

To cover up the murder, Aftab allegedly used Ms Shraddha's Instagram account to keep in touch with her friends and kept up the pretence till June.

The incident came to light on Nov 8, when Ms Shraddha's father Vikas Madan Walkar and a police team from Palghar in Maharashtra went to the Mehrauli police station to register a missing person complaint.

Ms Shraddha's childhood friend Laxman Nadar had informed Mr Walkar, who lives in Palghar, that she had gone incommunicado for over a couple of months.

The Maharashtra police initiated a tech-intel probe to verify Mr Laxman's claims.

"Since May, her phone was off, she had gone off social media like Facebook, even her bank accounts were inactive," said Inspector Sampatrao Patil of Manikpur Police Station in Vasai town.

"We also called Aftab, who came to Vasai and filed his statement."

After Mr Walkar filed the complaint with Delhi Police, Aftab was detained and questioned. He confessed to killing Ms Shraddha.

As shocking details of the gruesome murder emerged, a section of Internet users scanned the various social media accounts of the accused.

On Instagram, Aftab used to run a food blog account by the name hungrychokro_escapades. The account has 28,500 followers and carries pictures of many Indian and Chinese dishes.

In his bio, he describes himself as a photographer, food and beverage consultant and food photographer.

Mr Walkar wrote in the first information report: "My daughter told my wife in 2019 that she wanted to be in a live-in relationship with Aftab.

"My wife and I did not approve of this decision of hers as we are Koli Hindus and he was a Muslim, and we do not indulge in inter-religion or inter-caste marriages.

"Despite incurring our displeasure, our daughter said to us: 'I'm 25 years old now and I have all the right to take my decisions. I have to live with Aftab. From today, forget that I am your daughter.' She just took her clothes and left to live with Aftab."

However, the couple's three-year relationship soured quickly. Shraddha had told her family and friends that Aftab beat her and she feared him.

The police are trying to find Shraddha's handphone, which Aftab could have dumped in Maharashtra.

Indo-Asian News Service

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