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“I collapsed when he said…”: Father of woman killed by “Live-in Partner”

New Delhi: Shraddha Walkar’s father, whose daughter was murdered by her live-in partner in Delhi in a grisly crime that has stunned the country, on Wednesday said he could barely bring himself to hear Aftab Poonawala’s confession.

“He confessed in front of me. The police asked him, ‘Do you know him’? He said, ‘Yes, he is Shraddha’s father’. Then at once, he started saying Shraddha is no more. I collapsed there. I could not hear any more. Then he was taken away. I was in no condition to hear it,” Vikas Walkar told.

He said even when the police had first told him what had happened to Shraddha, it was unbearable for him. “I was dumbstruck. It was difficult to even hear the details. It was overwhelming to go into their apartment. It was horrifying,” he said.

Mr Walkar recalled how Aftab had been “totally normal” while speaking to him on previous occasions, and how he grew suspicious when the man washed his hands off any kind of accountability when Shraddha was missing.

“I asked him why did you not tell me earlier, since you’ve been living together for 2.5 years. I’m coming to know about this [that Shraddha is missing] from friends. He reluctantly said, why should I inform you since we are not in a relationship now,” he said.

“That’s when I started suspecting something wrong has happened. I told the cops that he is lying about everything. It was his responsibility if he was in love with her and was living with her for 2.5 years – to take care of her. How can he say it is not my responsibility to take care of her,” he said.

Mr Walkar said it was Shraddha’s relationship with Aftab because of which they had not spoken since mid-2021.

“I got to know about him in 2020. My immediate reaction was Shraddha, ‘I don’t like this match’. Don’t marry this guy. I want you to get married to a guy from our community,” he said.

“Whenever he would come home, he would act normal. Had I known earlier, I would have tried to talk her out of this relationship… He should only be given the death sentence,” Mr Walkar said.

Shraddha, 26, was strangled by Aftab, 28, after a fight over expenses and accusations of infidelity in May, and he chopped her body into 35 pieces, stored them in a fridge, before dumping the parts in a forest over 18 days, the police have said.

Details of the crime emerged earlier this week after the police managed to untangle his web of lies and extract a confession, turning a missing person’s case into a gruesome saga that has brought domestic violence and relationship abuse into sharp focus nationwide.