Manikpur Police is under scanner as Shraddha Walkar’s father approached them on August 15 but due to 90-day delay by MBVV police, the killer Aftab Poonawala was arrested on November 11 by Delhi police
Manikpur police’s delay in filing a missing report has irked their counterparts in Delhi and criminal lawyers alike
Inaction by Tulinj police on Shraddha Walkar’s complaint of domestic abuse in 2020 and then delay by Manikpur police in filing a missing report in August this year have become points of contention in connection with Walkar’s brutal murder. It has been a week since state Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that there would be a probe into why Tulinj police did not act on the November 2020 complaint filed by Walkar, but no inquiry has been initiated so far, mid-day has learnt. Zonal DCP Suhas Bavche said, “I have received no such orders. When and if the order comes, I will definitely follow it.”
The delay in filing the missing report filed by Walkar’s father and the action taken thereafter have irked Delhi police, which are investigating the murder. Criminal lawyers said that prompt action by Manikpur police in the missing complaint would have significantly helped the investigation.
Walkar’s father Vikas had first approached Manikpur police on August 15 to register a missing complaint, but the cops turned him away. Vikas then approached the DCP as well as the divisional ACP. As per sources, the ACP had directed Manikpur police to register the missing report on October 6, but it was eventually filed on October 12, and finally Poonawala was arrested on November 11, almost 90 days after Vikas first approached police.
CCTV grabs from October 18 showing Poonawala with two bags in Mehrauli
Delhi police have taken note of the lapse by Manikpur police under the Mira Bhayander-Vasai Virar commissionerate. A cop from Delhi told mid-day, “It cannot be ruled out that there is delay in action by Manikpur police. But we cannot comment on it as it is subject to state police inquiry.”
The officer added, “If and when required as part of our investigation, we will surely record statements of MBVV cops about several things including when they received the complaint, when they called Aftab, and, most importantly, why they did not alert us even after knowing Shraddha was living in Delhi.”
“We must add that when Manikpur police called Aftab for questioning, some parts of Walkar’s body were probably still in the Mehrauli flat. Had they alerted us, we could have nabbed him red-handed with the pieces of the body,” the cop added.
Manikpur police claim to have called Poonawala for the first time for questioning on October 20. A CCTV footage dated October 18 shows Aftab walking in his Delhi neighbourhood early in the morning with two bags. The police suspect he was carrying body parts in these bags to dispose of them in the forest area.
Walkar had on November 23, 2020 approached Tulinj police saying that Poonawala tried to kill her. Her complaint letter, which resurfaced recently after her murder was discovered, read: “He [Poonawala] tried to kill me by suffocating me. He scares and blackmails me that he will kill me, cut me up in pieces and throw me away. It has been 6 months since he has been hitting me but I did not have the guts to go to the police because he would threaten to kill me.”
This case was closed on December 19, 2020 without the police taking any action in the matter. An officer attached to Tulinj police station said, “She had given a letter saying that Aftab’s parents intervened and sorted out the matter. Since she had no complaint against him anymore, there was no point for a police officer to further investigate if the complainant withdraws his/her grievances.”
Poonam Bidlani, a social worker who had helped Walkar submit the complaint, said, “After filing the complaint, I had suggested that she stay at my place. But she left, and did not show up on November 24, the day when the FIR was supposed to be filed. Later in the evening, she told me that the matter was resolved.”
Walkar’s former team leader Karan B said, “Aftab’s father knew that an FIR would land his son in legal trouble. So, he convinced Shraddha to not go ahead with the FIR. Shraddha had told me that at that time Aftab’s father had promised that Aftab would leave her alone. But the duo still continued to live together.”
Darshana Tripathi, a senior criminal lawyer at Vasai court, told mid-day, “Tulinj police should have investigated her November 2020 complaint immediately. While she withdrew her complaint after 24 hours, had the police started an investigation right after the filing of the complaint, the situation would have been different.”
Speaking on Manikpur police’s delay in filing the missing report, Tripathi said, “The delay of almost 90 days is long enough time for the criminal to destroy evidence. This is a clear negligence on the part of MBVV police.”
Nov 23, 2020 Shraddha Walkar files complaint against Aftab Poonawala with Tulinj police
Nov 24, 2020 She withdraws the complaint
Dec 19, 2020 Tulinj police close her complaint
Aug 15, 2022 Walkar’s father Vikas approaches Manikpur police to register a missing report, but cops send him away
Oct 6 ACP directs Manikpur police to register missing report
Oct 12 Manikpur police register missing complaint
Oct 20 Investigating Officer API Sachin Sanap first contacts Poonawala over phone
Oct 23 Poonawala meets API Sanap at Manikpur police station
Nov 3 Poonawala again visits the police station for questioning
Nov 9 Manikpur police inform Delhi police
Nov 10 Mehrauli police file FIR against Poonawala
November 11 Cops arrest Poonawala