New Delhi: Shreejay Vikas Walkar, the brother of Shraddha, who was strangled to death and then her body chopped into several pieces by her live-in partner Aaftab Amin Poonawala, testified at Delhi’s Saket court on Thursday as it commenced recording the testimonies of witnesses in the sensational murder trial.
Shreejay Walkar, who was called as a prosecution witness by the public prosecutor before Additional Sessions Judge Manisha Khurana Kakkar, told court that Poonawala used to beat Shraddha and then apologise, persuading her to forgive the assaults.
He revealed that Shraddha had chosen to leave the Mumbai residence she shared with Poonawala after their family advised her against continuing the relationship.
“Despite their counsel, Shraddha, who was 25 years old at the time, asserted her independence and decision-making capabilities,” Shreejay told the court while informing the court that the couple had initially met while working together at a call centre in 2018-19.
“Shraddha expressed her desire to engage in a live-in relationship with Poonawala. We made efforts to counsel her, but it seemed that she was strongly influenced by the accused. Consequently, she left our house and relocated to a rented accommodation in Naigaon, Mumbai,” he further told the court.
During the court proceedings, Shreejay shared crucial information about the deteriorating situation between Shraddha and Poonawala.
“Approximately two weeks after Shraddha left their family home, she confided in me about the occurrence of verbal fights and instances of physical abuse at the hands of Poonawala,” he told the court.
Shreejay said that following each altercation, Poonawala would apologise to Shraddha for the fight and the physical harm inflicted upon her.
“Shockingly, she would forgive him and choose to continue living with him despite the abuse. Even after the tragic loss of our mother, the family attempted to counsel Shraddha once again, urging her to leave Poonawala. However, she remained adamant and refused to separate from him,” he said.
Shreejay further told the court that their interactions with Shraddha gradually diminished, as they realized that she was completely under the influence of the accused.
In addition to Shreejay’s testimony, the court also heard from two other significant witnesses: an auto driver and a neighbor of Shraddha.
As per the provisions outlined in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the public prosecutor conducts the examination-in-chief of witnesses to support the prosecution’s case. Following the completion of the examination-in-chief, the defence counsel representing the accused has the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses.
Shreejay’s testimony serves as the prosecution’s examination-in-chief in this case. The testimonies of the auto driver and the neighbor have been recorded, concluding on Thursday.
The court has scheduled the next proceedings for July 12, during which Shraddha Walkar’s brother’s statement will be recorded further, along with the cross-examination of all three witnesses.
Subsequently, additional prosecution witnesses are set to appear before the court on July 17 and 18 to provide their statements.
Poonawala has been charged with offences under Sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The case involves a substantial charge sheet consisting of over 6,000 pages.