It is an incident that shook the entire nation and would perhaps break even a stone heart, also shocked the neighbourhood where Shraddha Madan lived with her boyfriend, Aftab Amin Poonawala.
Anger over Aftab, who is accused of dismembering Shraddha’s body into 35 pieces, was palpable in Mehrauli’s Chattarpur in New Delhi when The New Indian visited the area.
The neighbours were equivocal in their demand for the harshest punishment – from the death penalty to public hanging – for the heinous act committed by Aftab.
The couple shifted to their one-bedroom rented accommodation, located on the first floor in Gali Number 1, on May 15. And within three days – on May 18 – Aftab killed the girl who chose him over her parents.
“We never saw the girl. We thought he was living alone in this house. On Saturday, when the police came, it was only then that we got to know that such a crime had happened,” Monu, who lived opposite their house, told The New Indian.
“We cannot even imagine such a thing could happen in our locality,” he said.
Demanding capital punishment for Aftab, Monu said, “This person should be hanged till death. He does not deserve to live. His punishment should be an example so that no one could ever think of harming our daughters.”
A similar sentiment was expressed by another local, Rajendra Kumar. “I’ve lived here since I was a child. But we are shocked to know about this incident. The accused should get the death penalty; then only her (Shraddha’s) family will get justice,” Kumar said.
Sajjad Ali, who lived in the same lane, said it was an unfortunate and shocking incident. He also said the accused should not be spared, as he deserved to get the harshest punishment. “He should be hanged in public view. We also have daughters and sisters. It should be made an example,” Ali added.
A female neighbour, who lives on the second floor and who did not wish to be named, said, “We are completely shattered by this incident. It happened in our first-floor flat. I never saw the girl but often saw the boy go upstairs to check the water in the tank.”
Kusum, who lives next to the building, said police came to Aftab’s house daily for the past three days. She said police also seized a refrigerator from his house.
“Yesterday, police seized a refrigerator from his house. Then we found out that he stored the chopped body parts in that refrigerator,” Kusum said.
Police said Aftab, after killing Shraddha, decided to stay back in this house and started working in a call centre in Gurugram.
Residents also say they never spotted him cooking food. He frequently ordered food after they noticed delivery boys delivering food to his house.