India gripped by gruesome 'fridge murder'

November 25, 2022 3:30 pm

Protesters have demanded justice for Shraddha Walkar. [Source: BBC]

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.

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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.