The FIR lodged by Delhi Police based on the statement of Vikas Matan Walkar, the father of Shraddha Walkar who was murdered by her live-in partner, reveals the tragic story of a girl who deserted her family for love before disappearing mysteriously.
The resident of Vasai West in Maharashtra said his daughter began working in a call centre in Mumbai, where she met Aaftab Amin Poonawala. “After 8-9 months, we learnt that my daughter and Aaftab were in a relationship. In 2019, Shraddha told her mother that she wanted to share a live-in relationship with Aaftab,” says the father’s statement.
“We opposed this decision because we were Hindu and Koli by caste while the boy was a Muslim and interfaith relationships were not allowed in our family. On our refusal, Shraddha told us that she was 25 years old and had the right to take decisions pertaining to her life,” the father said in the FIR. Then saying she was no longer their daughter, the girl left the house.
The father’s statement goes on, “I came to know from her friends that the duo lived together first in Naya village and then in Vasai. Sometime later, Shraddha confided in her mother that Aaftab often quarrelled with her and beat her. She spoke to me on the phone a couple of times after the death of my wife and told me of violence at the hands of Aaftab.” Shraddha did come back to her father’s home once, but returned when Poonawala apologised.
Shraddha’s friends, Shivani Mahatre and Laxman Nadar, claimed the relationship continued to be stormy with their friend often subjected to thrashings. On September 14, Nadar informed Shraddha’s brother, Jay, that her phone was silent for two months. The senior Walkar spoke to Nadar and learnt his daughter had been unreachable on phone since July-August.
Worried, Walkar lodged a missing person report at Manikpur police station in Maharashtra. “I suspect some foul play in her disappearance because Aaftab regularly beat her. Kindly investigate the matter,” said Walker in the complaint. Maharashtra Police informed Walkar that the inquiry had been transferred to Mehrauli in Delhi based on Shraddha’s last location. Walkar landed in Delhi to find from the cops that his daughter had been murdered.
After studying in a junior college in Vasai, Shraddha joined Viva Institute of Technology to pursue a mass media programme in 2015. “She dropped out before her final year,” said Sahin Mulani, the course coordinator at VIT. “She used to miss classes and claimed this was because she was working while studying in order to support her mother and brother.” Mulani remembered Poonawala coming regularly to the college to meet Shraddha.
The feisty girl’s friends revealed that while she was looking at a long-term relationship with Poonawala, it was unlikely she was pestering him for marriage. She had introduced her partner to most of her close friends. Once in 2019, her father questioned her about Poonawala when the latter dropped her home after a late-night party. “Shraddha was serious about her relationship with Poonawala, but her parents were opposed to it. When she decided to move out of her home, Poonawala agreed to join her,” said a friend.
Shraddha worked as a customer service representative from April 2017 to March 2018 and then as a sales manager at a retail sports shop in Dahisar in 2018-2020. Saurabh Gajjar, who worked at the sports shop, said he hadn’t interacted much with Shraddha, but she was chosen to be in sales as she had good interpersonal skills.