Undated photo of Shraddha Walkar. Photo: PTI
New Delhi/Mumbai: Delhi Police on Friday sent teams to Mumbai, Gurgaon and Himachal Pradesh to hunt for evidence in the Shraddha Walkar murder case even as the victim's chats with friends and co-workers since two years indicated she was once beaten so badly that she could not get off the bed.
Meanwhile, a Delhi court has directed police not to use any third degree measures on accused Aaftab Amin Poonawala and conduct his narco test within five days. The court had on Thursday granted nod for conducting the truth serum test after police found that Poonawala was constantly changing his statements.
Dating app Bumble on which Poonwala and Walker had met, released a statement calling the incident an "unspeakable crime" and expressed sympathy with the victim's family and loved ones.
The WhatsApp chats revealed a pattern of abuse when Walkar lived with Poonawala in their hometown Vasai near Mumbai. Similarly, pictures of Walkar dating back to 2020 with visible injury marks also surfaced on social media.
Investigators privy to the probe said Poonawala's phone will be sent for forensic examination to identify the people he was in touch with after killing Walkar and to retrieve deleted data.
Police have so far recovered some bones. Prima facie, they resemble human bones, sources said.
Poonawala allegedly strangled Walkar, 27, on May 18 and sawed her body into 35 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.
According to police officials, after leaving Mumbai, Walkar and Poonawala had travelled to several locations and police are visiting these places to ascertain whether something had happened on those trips to trigger the murder.
"Ten special teams formed by Delhi Police were sent to multiple locations including Mumbai, Gurgaon, Himachal Pradesh, Dehradun in Uttarakhand.
"We will talk to the owners and staffers of hotels where the couple had stayed in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and also make them identify Poonawala," a source said.
Earlier in the day, a team probing the murder visited the office of a private firm in Gurugram where the accused used to work. He was accompanying the police team, an official said.
Searches were also conducted in the premises of the office to find out if he had thrown in the vicinity parts of her dismembered body, the murder weapon or anything related to the case which could prove to be crucial in the investigation.
Following the search, the police were seen carrying a plastic bag containing items recovered from bushes in the vicinity of the office. However, the officials did not reveal the contents of the bag.
Poonawala used to work at the private firm after he and Walkar shifted from Mumbai to the national capital.
"We have to conduct the narco analysis within five days and the test will be conducted in the Delhi facility at Ambedkar hospital. He has been misleading police with contradictory statements and so all the allegations levelled against him are being verified," the official said.
Screenshots of purported chats between Walker and an acquaintance that is believed to have taken place in 2020 has surfaced which indicated that Walker was a victim of domestic violence and sent out distress messages to her friends seeking help from her strained relationship.
Old pictures of her dating back to 2020 with injury marks also surfaced on social media platform raising suspicion that she was physically assaulted.
"... I wont be able to make it today because from all the beating yesterday I guess my bp is low and my body hurts. Energy nahi bachi hai bed se uthne ki," and "Also I need to make sure he moves out today," are some of the messages she exchanged in the chats.
"Let me know when you reach police station," "Don't b scared,we all are with you", "If u wanna move out then I think u should speak to jesvita", "U guys can share the place and u will be at peace for sometime", are some of the messages she received in exchange.
However, the veracity of the screenshots is yet to be verified and is part of the investigation.
According to Mumbai police officials, the couple were looking for a flat on rent in Vasai, and most of the times Poonawala introduced Walkar as his wife though they were not married, they said.
Meanwhile, a Bumble spokesperson said, "Everyone at Bumble is devastated to hear about this unspeakable crime, and our hearts are with Shraddha Walker's family and loved ones. We will continue to follow closely and remain available to law enforcement should they request our support. The safety and wellbeing of our members is our top priority and we have a dedicated global team serving their needs."
Delhi Police is also planning to ask Bumble to analyse the duos dating profiles as well as access accounts of other women Poonawala was in touch with on the same platform.