New Delhi: In November 2020 his friend Shraddha Walkar first spoke to him about her partner Aaftab Amin Poonawala physically assaulting her. Two years later as another November rolls by, Karan is left with chats detailing her abuse, a medical report from when she sought treatment for an injured spine and neck -- and so many memories.
Walkar was about to approach the police but stopped short of pressing charges after Poonawala's parents intervened, Karan told PTI as he comes to terms with the horrific killing of his friend and colleague allegedly by her live-in partner who sawed her body into multiple pieces.
Describing Shraddha as energetic and full of enthusiasm in office, he said, "But on some days when she had fights with Aaftab, she isolated herself so she does not have to lie. I cannot imagine Aaftab going to this extent..."
Poonawala allegedly strangled Walkar, 27, on May 18 and kept her body parts in a 300-litre fridge for almost three weeks at his residence in south Delhi's Mehrauli area before dumping them across the city over several days in the dead of the night.
Karan, who prefers to be known only by one name, worked with Walkar in Mumbai till March 2021. Demanding justice for Walkar, he told PTI in a Zoom interview that he is ready to cooperate with the police in any way he can.
Walkar's chats with him about the abusive relationship she was in are doing the rounds of social media. The WhatsApp chats reveal a pattern of abuse from when Walkar lived with Poonawala in their hometown Vasai near Mumbai.
"Those chats are from November 2020 and that was the first time she opened up about the domestic violence and the beatings that she was going through in her relationship with Aaftab," Karan said.
Pictures of Walkar dating back to 2020 with visible injury marks have also surfaced on social media.
Karan recalled that she sent him a photograph with a black mark under her right eye. Bruises on the neck were also visible. However, he doesn't have the photograph now.
Her chats and the medical report she shared with him in December when she had to seek treatment for her injured spine and neck due to the beating by Poonawala are all that are left.
Hearing about the abuse, did he counsel her to move out of the volatile relationship?
"When she started working with me, she never told me about it (domestic violence)... It was only in November (2020) when she was badly hurt and could not trust anyone that she talked about it..."
Walkar sent a distress message and asked for help, he said, adding that he then called his friend Godvin, a resident of Vasai, who took her to the police station and the hospital.
He also said Godvin reached her place with members of the Mahila Mandal at Vasai and took her to the police station.
"This was the first time she sought help. I also spoke to her about what had happened in the past and made sure she did not fall prey to the vicious cycle of suffering. But she was very happy after that because she was guaranteed by Aaftab's parents that he would move out of the house where the duo was staying," Karan added.
"Walkar then dropped her plans to file a police complaint against Aaftab," he said.
Karan said he did not know that Walkar and Poonawala had reconciled their differences and again started living together.
He remembers vividly that March 2021 day when she left the firm they both worked in.
"It was her last day at work and that was the day we spent the maximum time together. We had kept a farewell for her. She dropped me home and then went to her residence. That was my last meeting with her.
He lost touch with her after that. But the memories of her sharing her ordeal with him came flooding back when he heard about what happened to Walker.
"I never expected to hear such a news... I could not speak to anyone at home. It took me time to come out of that shock... It was quite heartbreaking," he said.
Delhi Police on Friday sent teams to Maharashtra, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to hunt for evidence in the case. Sleuths have recovered some body parts in Gurugram and a Delhi court has ordered that a narco test be conducted on Poonawala.
According to police officials, after leaving Mumbai, Walkar and Poonawala travelled to several locations and police are visiting these places to ascertain whether something happened on those trips to trigger the murder.