(MENAFN- Colombo Gazette)
For the past few days, India has been gripped by what's being described as a“murder most foul”.
Police in the capital, Delhi, have arrested a young man – Aftab Poonawala – on allegations of murdering his live-in partner of three years.
They allege that Mr Poonawala murdered 27-year-old Shraddha Walkar in May, chopped up her body into dozens of pieces, stored them in his home fridge and, over the past few months, went around disposing them off – a piece at a time – in different parts of the city.
Mr Poonawala is in custody and has not yet made any public statement, but on Tuesday, he told a court that“the information being spread against me is not correct” and that he was“fully cooperating with the police investigation”.
The death came to light only last week after Ms Walkar was reported missing by her father.
Since then, lurid details of the alleged murder have made daily headlines in India, with nuggets of unverified information being fed by unnamed policemen to local journalists.
The crime has been dubbed“the fridge murder” and the huge interest in the case has seen news websites running live pages on the investigation that are being updated every few minutes.
And anger has spilled over onto the streets – protesters have burnt Mr Poonawala's effigies, demanding strict punishment for him.
Lawyers, activists and former police officials have expressed concern at the intense media coverage.
Vikram Singh, who retired as director general of police in the state of Uttar Pradesh, called it“extremely irresponsible”.
“A ball-by-ball commentary is detrimental to the cause of the investigation and disrespects the deceased,” he told the BBC.
The breathless coverage has also made it hard to separate the grain from the chaff – reports are mired in inconsistencies with little clarity on the facts of the case, including on how the couple met.
Though Ms Walkar and Mr Poonawala lived in the same area in Mumbai city, police say they met on Bumble, a dating app.
But in the missing complaint to the Mumbai police in early October, her father says they met in 2018 at a call centre where they both worked.
Ms Walkar's relations with her family were strained as they disapproved of her relationship with Mr Poonawala.
In his police complaint, her father said he had tried to dissuade her from moving in with Mr Poonawala since“we are Hindus and Aftab is Muslim and we don't marry outside of our caste or religion”.
But the couple started living together in 2019 and moved to Delhi earlier this year and rented an apartment in Chhatarpur Pahadi area.
The couple's friends and the police say the two quarrelled frequently and accuse Mr Poonawala of abusing her.
Senior police official Ankit Chauhan told ANI that Shraddha started putting pressure on Mr Poonawala to marry her and that“on 18 May, he lost his temper and strangled her”.
Ms Walkar's father approached Mumbai police after being alerted by her friends that they had not heard from her for a few months and that her phone had been switched off.
On Wednesday, a handwritten note surfaced that Delhi police said was written by Ms Walkar in 2020 in which she had complained to the Mumbai police that he had beaten her up and“was threatening to kill her and cut her up into pieces” – exactly what police allege happened two year later.
Following criticism, Mumbai police responded that the case had been investigated, but“it was closed after she gave a written statement that it had been resolved and there was no dispute”. (BBC)