Vikas Walkar, father of Shraddha Walkar who was murdered allegedly by her live-in partner Aaftab Poonawala in Delhi, on Friday demanded that the accused be hanged to death for "brutally killing" his daughter.
Blaming the Vasai police in Maharashtra, he said his daughter would have been alive had they acted on her complaint against Poonawala in 2020. He also demanded that an inquiry be conducted against the family members of the accused and they be given strictest possible punishment.
Poonawala allegedly strangled Shraddha and cut her body into 35 pieces which he kept in a 300-litre fridge for almost three weeks at his residence in Mehrauli in south Delhi in May this year, before dumping them across the city over several days. He was arrested in Delhi in November.
"Aaftab Poonawala killed my daughter brutally, he should get a strict punishment. He should be hanged to death for killing my daughter...There should be a stern action against whosoever is involved in the case," Walkar told reporters in Mumbai after meeting Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis along with Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirit Somaiya.
He was addressing a press conference for the first time after his daughter's sensational murder came to light in November.
"There should be an inquiry against Poonawala's family members, including his parents and brother, and they should be given maximum punishment. Whoever is involved in this conspiracy of killing, should also be punished," he said.
"Due to the death of my daughter, my family members and I are sad and cannot forget the incident. Due to stress, I am also feeling unwell. Whatever happened to her is very saddening and should not be happen with anybody else," he said.
Walkar said Delhi and Vasai police were conducting a joint probe into the case, which was now going on properly.
"But I was annoyed by the non-cooperation of Tulinj and Manikpur police in Vasai (town in Palghar district)...Had they acted swiftly, my daughter would have been alive now or there would have been much help in collecting evidence," he added.
He said he has full faith in law and judiciary.
Walkar said his daughter and Poonawala first met on a dating app.
"Due to some mobile apps, people are facing problems and there should be some control on it. There should be a rethink or a debate on the freedom that a person enjoys after completing 18 years of age. They should be counselled and there should be control on them," he said.
There should be religious awareness as well, he said without elaborating further.
He said he had told his daughter that he was against her relationship with Poonawala.
"I told her so and asked her to rethink. But she said she wanted to live with him (Poonawala) and left the house. She said she is an adult, and I was helpless," he said, adding she did not share anything about facing torture from Poonawala.
He said he tried to speak to her several times after she started living with Poonawala, but she did not talk much.
"I last spoke to Shraddha in mid-2020, when I asked how and where she was, and what she was doing. To that, she said that she was alright and was staying in Bangalore," he said.
"I had spoken to Aaftab Poonawala on September 26 and had asked him the whereabouts of my daughter. But he said he did not know where she was. Then I told him that since she was staying with him for the last three years, it was his responsibility to look after her. But he did not reply to that," he said.
When asked whether he visited Poonawala's residence (in Vasai), he said he had been to the place once.
"There, I did not receive a proper answer from his mother," he said.
Walkar demanded an inquiry against the police officials in Vasai, Nalasopara and Tulinj (in Palghar district) for their delay in taking action on his daughter's complaint against Poonawala.
Shraddha Walkar had submitted a written complaint to Tulinj police in November 2020, in which she alleged: "Poonawala has been abusing me and beating me up. Today, he tried to kill me by suffocating me and he scares and blackmails me that he will kill me, cut me up in pieces and throw me anyway. It's been six months he has been hitting me. But I did not have the guts to go to police because he would threaten to kill me."
Walkar said Delhi Governor, DCP Delhi South and Maharashtra deputy CM Fadnavis have assured justice to his family.
"I have been informed that the government is going to appoint a lawyer for me in the case, but I also have appointed a lawyer Seema Kushwah, who is from Delhi in this case," he said.