35 Pieces of Love and Trust – A Shocking Saga

By Ipsita Pradhan: Falling in love, eloping from home, getting married or staying together and a murder followed by, there is nothing new in such stories. But what shocked the whole nation was a love related murder where the boy had chopped the girl’s body into 35 pieces after killing her. Believe me even after working for years in hospitals, while putting IV cannula if I fail after puncturing 3-4 times, then I call someone else for help to puncture the concerned patient.

Then how can anyone cut a human body into so many pieces after strangulating her?!? And yes that to be not the body of just anyone but someone with whom he’d spent and shred years of love!  Yes I’m talking about one of the most brutal and henious murder or crime we have witnessed in our life, the Shraddha Walker Murder case of Delhi. 

According to reports and a few friends of Shraddha she met Aftab on a dating site in 2019. Then both of them started working together in a fitness equipment selling store. Later they moved in together at a rented accommodation in Chhatarpur after both of their families disapproved of their relationship. Delhi police received a complaint from Shraddha’s father and registered an FIR on November 10. Delhi Police interrogation revealed that Aftab Poonawala killed Shraddha on May 18. He told police that he had read about human anatomy so that it could help him in chopping off the body. Also searched Google and cleaned blood stains from the floor with some chemicals and disposed stained clothes.

He shifted the body in bathroom and bought a refrigerator from a nearby shop. Then he chopped the body into small pieces and put them in the fridge, later started planning for disposing off her body. Police was able to discover body parts (bones) of Shraddha from different localities of Delhi during investigation. And while I’m writing this, the case is under trial. 

During all these period, various theories and possibilities have been proposed by different people while discussing about the cause of this crime. Most people think because Shrddha didn’t listen to her parents and it’s a “live-in relationship” for which the couple have a disturbing relationship and murder followed. Though today our law allows 2 adults for a live-in relationship but people think only marriage is acceptable and it gives a stable and secure future to a woman. If you too believe on this theorem, then you can take a look on the NCRB report.

According to NCRB report in the year 2021 domestic violence and murder of women by their husbands or his relatives in India accounted for about 31% (registered cases under cruelty by husband or his relatives in 2021 are 1,36,192) of the total number of registered crime against women which is about 4,28,278. NCRB report said 45,026 females committed suicide in 2021 in the country, of whom more than half i.e. 23,178 were housewives. The National Commission for Women in 2020-21 received 26,513 domestic-violence complaints from women. In 2021 a total of 6800 dowry death cases were reported in India. All these reports indicate that women are not safe in the hands of their most intimate person (by law) also. Then how can only the live-in relationship be held responsible for Shraddha’s death? 

While going through various updates of this case 2 things surprised me the most. First chat history of Shraddha and her friend discussing about her body ache following beating by Aftab on previous night and secondly a smiling selfie of Shraddha of 2020 with multiple bruises on her face. Both the things indicate that the couple was sharing a turbulent and ill relationship. Though in 2021 Shraddha left Aftab and moved to her parents in Maharashtra, but returned to live with Aftab after he apologized for his wrong deeds.

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After reading all the 3 above mentioned situations, like many others my first reaction was, why didn’t Shraddha try to move out of that bad relationship? Why did she allow Aftab to abuse and kill her? She was educated and was in a job also, so at least she was able enough to feed herself! Here at this point few people add about the “black-mail” theory like Shraddha’s parents. But do you think really any secret existed between Shraddha and Aftab that she can be black-mailed? Everyone was aware that both of them are adults and were in a live-in relationship for about 3-4 years, they are staying together, so getting physical was quite natural in their case. And many people keep a picture or video clips of intimate moments with their partner. Hence blackmailing a open- minded girl like Shraddha with such video clips or with her nude pictures, is just a foolish idea.

Just sit for a while and try to remember all the faces and names of the girls whose obscene still and motion pictures were made viral and you’ve came across the news in last few years! Are you able to remember their names? Such things really won’t affect a girl’s social status and dignity unless she herself decides to tolerate and stay silent. And even if Aftab would have tried to blackmail Shraddha, it would have been easier for Shraddha to file complaints against him, came out of that relationship and she could have been saved. 

But through a little fact check I came across a few other reports and statements. Shraddha used to live with her mother separately since childhood, as her parents had a disturbed relationship. So she must have had a troublesome, disturbing and traumatized childhood. Again she must have seen all the criticism which her mother must have faced for leaving her husband’s house. So this must be there deep seated within her mind and she was not able to leave Aftab, for the fear that again she’s to face all the social discrimination like her mother. 

Again the thinking and beliefs of Indian parents that their daughter’s future is at her husband’s home. From early childhood it has been taught to every girl, even if abusive she has to tolerate and should be dedicated towards her husband. Even the television shows of this era portray that same tolerant, submissive, ever struggling picture of female lead roles and they are termed ‘Mahan’. Girls are never made aware about these fake- ideology, never taught how to raise their voice and what is the procedure to raise their voice. While discussing about domestic violence against women, many experts agree at the point that “many cases go unreported or undocumented due to certain Indian cultural values and beliefs, many women agree that their husband beating them is justified.”

Also the feeling of “left abandoned” from her parents, must be a factor that Shraddha couldn’t leave Aftab. Even though abusive still someone was showing love and care in a few instances (even if fake) and she is staying at ‘her own dream house’. If only Shraddha’s parents have shown the same amount of care and dedication towards her during her visit to their home in 2021, like they are showing now, then surely she could have been saved.    

Police is investigating the Shraddha Murder case. Everyday new findings and updates are made available. Every evening news channels show new statements made by Aftab and play their own screenplay on the crime scene. Surely the court will deliver its verdict within a few days or months or even years in this case. Aftab might also get punished, unless his parents are able to show some documents of his mental-illness and under treatment (like we’ve seen in many past cases).

But what about many other Shraddhas of our country and their future? Do you think their future is safe once Aftab is punished? Or we are going to advise them to stay away from love? And is it really possible to avoid love? Can we really survive all alone without love and believing anyone else (any relationship)? No! But we can educate our girls about handling and dealing with abusive relationships.

It’s the role of every parents that they should make a strong friendly relationship with their children (both girls and boys), so the children can share every emotions with them. Don’t hide or try to tame, but if needed then provide treatment for the psychological trauma of your child. Take the help of a counselor or psychiatrists. Teach your children the correct methods and ways of raising voice against wrong deeds and violence. Make them able to distinguish between loving and abusive behaviour. Teach them, they don’t need to thrive to a toxic and abusive relationship. There is always an exit gate. Make them believe that you are always going to welcome them with open arms. Stand with your child. Don’t wait for any Aftab to arrive and make 35 pieces of the love and faith or body of hers! 

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