Delhi Police has recovered a sharp object from Mehrauli murder accused Aaftab Poonawala's flat, which it suspects may have been used to chop live-in partner Sharddha Walkar's body, even as a CCTV footage of the accused emerged showing him walking with a bag early morning, officials said.
Investigators are trying to verify the CCTV footage -- the first visual that has surfaced in the gruesome murder case, officials said, adding it was suspected Poonawala was carrying Walkar's body parts and that is being investigated.
Meanwhile, a Delhi Police team searched for the murder weapon at a forest in Gurugram using a metal detector on Saturday, but returned empty-handed after one-and-a-half-hours, sources said.
The search at the forest in DLF Phase 3 area began on Friday after the police suspected that Poonawala disposed the weapon there after allegedly killing 27-year-old Walkar.
Another team of investigators in Mumbai recorded the statements of two men, whom Walkar had approached for assistance after allegedly facing assault by the accused in 2020.
Police on Saturday took possession of all the clothes from the Mehrauli residence of Poonawala, which will be sent for forensic examination.
However, the investigators have not recovered the clothes the two were wearing on May 18, the day the crime was executed.
While the permission for Poonawala's narco test has come, the investigators are running against time to get it conducted.
The test will be conducted at Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital in Rohini, New Delhi, most likely on Monday as Poonawala's five-day police custody ends the next day.
Poonawala allegedly strangled Walkar and sawed her body into 35 pieces which he kept in a 300-litre fridge for almost three weeks at his house in Mehrauli before dumping them across the city over several days past midnight.
It was in November 2020 that Walkar had first spoken to her colleague Karan about 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 in a Zoom interview.
Karan, who prefers to be known only by one name, worked with Walkar in Mumbai till March 2021.
Demanding justice for Walkar, he said he is ready to cooperate with the police in any way he can.
The police team that has gone to Mumbai on Saturday recorded the statements of two men in Maharashtra's Palghar, in connection with the case. Both of them are residents of Vasai region.
The team is in Manikpur in Palghar district's Vasai, which is the native area of the victim and where the couple had stayed before shifting to the national capital.
According to the police official, Walkar had sought their assistance in 2020 after she was beaten up by Poonawala near Vasai, and the duo had helped her at the time.
Poonawala's family, that had shifted to a housing society on Mira Road on Diwali, had fled to an unknown location and is untraceable.
Poonawala's office colleagues, whom Shraddha used to call and narrate her ordeal, are likely to be interrogated next, officials said.
On Saturday, an undated CCTV footage emerged on social media which a man, suspected to be Poonawala, is seen walking on a street with a backpack and a packet in his hand.
The footage seems to be of early hours of the day as there is darkness and does not show any other person. Police are yet to verify the authenticity of the video.
Sources said that before Poonawala undergoes a narco test, he will have to be certified as emotionally, physically, mentally and psychologically fit for the test by a team of doctors, adding that if he is found unfit on any parameter, the test will not be carried out.
The forensic science laboratory, that will also be involved in the test, is yet to receive a formal request from the Delhi Police, said sources.
The police have so far recovered 13 body parts, which are mostly skeletal remains.
Poonawala is currently being taken to different locations in south Delhi to locate more body parts, the source said.
The Delhi Police had on Friday sent teams to Maharashtra, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to hunt for evidence in the case.
According to officials, after leaving Mumbai, Walkar and Poonawala had travelled to several locations, including Himachal Pradesh, and police are visiting these places to ascertain whether any development during those trips triggered Poonawala to kill his partner.