Police find parts of skull in forest, start draining pond in search for Walkar's remains
Delhi Police on Sunday recovered parts of skull and some bones from a forest area and deployed teams to drain a pond in South Delhi's Maidangarhi as it intensified its search for the remains of Shraddha Walkar that were allegedly dumped by her live-in partner after murdering her six months ago, sources said.
Police took accused Aaftab Poonawala to the flat where he and Walkar lived to gather more evidence. Also, the officials of Delhi Police and Rohini's Forensic Science Laboratory held a meeting as they prepared to conduct a narco-analysis test through which they are hoping to get some vital clues from the accused.
"We have taken up the matter. Our teams of forensic experts had an elaborative discussion with the officials of Delhi Police regarding the narco analysis test to be conducted and are preparing for the same," a senior official from Rohini's Forensic Science Laboratory said.
A Delhi court had on Thursday directed the city police to complete the narco analysis test within five days, while making it clear that it cannot use any third degree measure on him.
In Maharashtra, a Delhi Police team called three persons known to Walkar in Palghar district to record their statements. Delhi Police team is in Manikpur in Palghar's Vasai, which is the native place of the victim and where the couple had stayed before shifting to the national capital.
On Saturday, it had recorded statements of four persons in Palghar - two men from whom Walkar had sought assistance after she was assaulted by Poonawala in 2020, a former manager of the call centre in Mumbai where Walkar worked and her female friend.
According to the sources, police recovered fragments of skull and other body parts, mostly bones, on the third day of extensive searches in the forest areas of Mehrauli and Gurgaon in the Delhi-NCR region. These will be sent for forensic analysis.
Not far from Mehrauli, Delhi Police along with teams of MCD were involved in pumping out water from a pond since Sunday afternoon. The exercise began following Poonwala's claim that he had thrown her head and some other remains in the water body.
"We have heard that some body parts are dumped here and the search for them is underway. They are taking out the water from the pond. This pond supplies water to the tubewells in the area," said Mahavir Pradhan, president of the RWA of the village.
He said that they are ready to help the police but there could be another way of finding the body parts, rather than emptying the pond."Divers could have been deployed to look for the body parts," he said.
Poonawala allegedly strangled Walkar, 27, on May 18 and sawed her body into nearly three dozen pieces which he kept in a 300-litre fridge for almost three weeks at his residence in South Delhi's Mehrauli before dumping them across the city over several days past midnight.
The court had on Thursday permitted the city police to question Poonawala for five more days in its custody.
Sources privy to the probe said that Poonawala claime that he burnt three photographs of Walkar in the kitchen after killing her. During interrogation, the accused said that he had developed a hatred for Walkar and combed through the various belongings of the couple after murdering her.
The three big photographs of Walkar were in his bedroom, including two solo photographs from their Uttarakhand tour and a 2020 picture of the couple near Mumbai's Gateway of India.
During interrogation, he said that he wanted to destroy every evidence related to Walkar in the house. Police have recovered a bag of Walkar's belongings, including her shoes and clothes from the house.
As the police are scouring for evidence to nail Poonawala in court and ensure his conviction, experts here said that circumstantial evidence and forensic examination hold the key in such cases.
Noting that it is a six-month-old murder, former Delhi Police commissioner S N Shrivastava said the scene of the crime has been cleaned up and police are depending on the confession of the accused, who seems to be a "clever" person.
"It is going to be a very difficult case and will require the help of all organs of the criminal justice system to nail him down. Police will get what it can, but the court will also have to understand the situation and act accordingly," he told PTI.
The Delhi Police had on Friday sent teams to Maharashtra, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to hunt for evidence in the case.
According to officials, after leaving Mumbai, Walkar and Poonawala had travelled to several locations, including in Himachal Pradesh, and police are visiting these places to ascertain whether any development during those trips triggered Poonawala's actions.