There is nothing striking about his face that may leave an impression but trained chef and photographer Aaftab Amin Poonawala had a fiendish side.
Accused of butchering his live-in partner, the 28-year-old food blogger by profession is now being likened to notorious serial killer and sex offender Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy who raped, mutilated and murdered scores of women.
An avid follower of crime shows, Poonawala allegedly killed his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar after a quarrel over marriage and said the idea of chopping her body into 35 pieces was inspired by American crime TV series ”\RDexter ”.
Born and brought up in Mumbai, Poonawala lived along with his younger brother Ahad, father Amin and mother Munira Ben in Unique Park Housing Society in the Vasai suburb.
Residents of the society recall that the brothers used to fight often but there was nothing more significant about his personality that would give an inkling about his diabolical side.
A graduate from L S Raheja College in Mumbai, Poonawala shifted to Delhi earlier this year only after he met Walkar. Poonawala, who has a page on Instagram by the name ‘HungryChokro’ which has 29.1k followers, met Walkar through an online dating application.
Later, they started working for the same call centre in Mumbai and fell in love. But their families objected to the relationship as they belong to different faiths, prompting the couple to move to Mehrauli earlier this year.
On 18th May, the couple had an argument over marriage, which escalated and Poonawala killed her. The next day, he purchased a saw and a 300-litre refrigerator.
Poonawala had studied hotel management and was trained in handling sharp knives as he had undergone a two-week training on how to cut meat. He applied the know-how to chop Walkar’s body into 35 pieces.
He then went on to cut her body for two days. Poonawala would pack the refrigerator’s deep freezer with the pieces and put the remaining ones in the bottom tray. After some time, he would take the frozen pieces out to deep freeze those kept in the tray. He also used incense sticks and room freshener to suppress the foul smell.
Police said that he used to take out the chopped pieces, pack them in polythene bags and take them to the forest in a backpack. ”He would go to the jungle at around 2 am and return a couple of hours later. He repeated this for around 20 days,” an official said.
Police have described Poonawala as ”sharp-minded” who is more comfortable answering them in English though he knows Hindi.
Staying active on Walkar’s social media account helped him conceal the murder. But it was only a matter of time before he ran out of luck and the police came knocking at his door.
Details of the killing and its grisly aftermath came to light during his interrogation last week following which Poonawala was arrested in the early hours on Saturday. Mumbai Police said Poonawala appeared confident all through with no trace of remorse on his face when Manikpur police in Maharashtra called him for questioning earlier this month. His contradictory statements raised the suspicion of Mumbai Police, prompting them to rope in Delhi Police following which the accused was apprehended.
Poonawalla’s aggressive side was seen by a Delhi doctor who treated him in May, the same month when Walkar was killed.
Dr Anil Kumar recalled Poonawalla was very aggressive and restless when he had come to him for treatment and when he asked him about his injury, he claimed he got hurt while cutting fruit. Days before the murder came to light, Poonawalla had helped his family move to Mumbai from Vasai.
The Delhi Police has sought a narco test of Poonawala even as it continues its search for the missing body parts of Walkar.
As the bone-chilling details of the crime unravel, the investigation is on into the gruesome case.