Shraddha murder: Anger, lack of communication key factors behind violent crimes, say experts

Forensic psychologist Deepti Puranik said for somebody to be caught in a fit of rage so intense to kill their partner, one has to look at the increasingly lowering levels of tolerance among people.

Published: 15th November 2022 08:14 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th November 2022 08:15 PM   |  A+A-


Aaftab Amin Poonawala, accused to have murdered his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar, being brought to the Mehrauli forest area, in New Delhi. (Photo | PTI)


NEW DELHI: As the police probe a multitude of factors that pushed Aaftab Poonawala to allegedly butcher his live-in partner into 35 pieces, experts agree on a few reasons, including lack of communication and low anger threshold, behind such violent crimes.

The 28-year-old accused, a trained chef, evaded detection for six months, was arrested early Saturday after details of the killing and its grisly aftermath came to light during his interrogation.

Poonawala allegedly strangled Shraddha Walkar in May and sawed her body into 35 pieces which he kept in a 300-litre fridge for almost three weeks at his residence in South Delhi's Mehrauli before dumping them across the city over several days.

What could have made the love story, that started in 2019, end in such a grisly murder? Experts blame it on lack of communication, a low anger threshold and normalisation of violence through television and cinema.

"There is no one factor that we can directly attribute for such behaviour," forensic psychologist Deepti Puranik told PTI.

She added that for somebody to be caught in a fit of rage so intense to kill their partner, one has to look at the increasingly lowering levels of tolerance among people.

"We find it often these days that people get stressed out easily, they are not able to tolerate frustration. And there is certainly a lack of communication. Instead of communicating and resolving the issue, they are resorting to fighting," she said.

"People usually avoid communicating, nobody wants to sit down and listen," she said.

READ HERE | Shraddha murder: Delhi Police take accused to jungle, search for body parts, including victim's head

Poonawala and Walkar had met each other through an online dating application.

Later, they started working for the same call centre in Mumbai and fell in love.

But their families objected to the relationship as they belong to different faiths, prompting the couple to move to Mehrauli earlier this year, officials said.

The complaint by the victim's father alleged that Poonawala used to beat Walkar on several occasions and that she had informed her family about it earlier.

Smita Pandey, associate dean, School of Behavioural Science at the National Forensic Sciences University, said piling issues, old grudges and an anti-social lifestyle can lead to a sudden burst of anger in some.

"Lately, people are not able to forgive small issues that happen in daily life. They keep piling up and the grudges are kept alive. People are also leading an anti-social lifestyle. All of it can result in a fit of rage that they cannot control their anger," Pandey said.

She added that there is no recourse for anger management and there is a visible lack of communication in such cases.

Poonawala told the police during the investigation that he killed Walkar after a quarrel over marriage and the idea of chopping her body into pieces was inspired by "Dexter", an American crime TV series.

The latest crime is also a chilling reminder of a similar case in 2010 when a software engineer in Dehradun chopped off his wife in over 70 pieces.

During the investigation of the crime, it emerged that the accused was inspired by the Hollywood film "Silence of the Lambs".

More recently, a 26-year-old man from Jharkhand, absconding since 2018, was arrested by the Delhi Police for allegedly killing a 15-year-old girl whose dismembered body was found in the capital.

The accused, Shalu Topno, along with his associates had allegedly chopped the girl's body into six pieces, put it in a bag and threw it near a water body.

The Uttar Pradesh Police on Tuesday said the body of an unidentified woman, chopped into several pieces, was found in a well at a village in Azamgarh.

Locals discovered the body and informed police, they said.

Apart from crediting probable "psychopathological traits" in Poonawala to have disassociated with his live-in partner of three years and murdering her in cold blood, Puranik blamed violent films and TV shows for having desensitised the youth towards violence.

"Ample studies in people who watch violent tv shows have reflected that there is an increase in aggression. If you look at OTT platforms, we have kind of normalised aggression and violence. Adolescent young people become immune to these things after watching it on TV so much," Puranik said.

Manoj Kumar Sharma, clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), noted that violent films can give a "symbolic expression" to the anger of people with psychopathological traits and anti-social nature.

"Such films impact different people in different ways. Some people have a higher level of aggression and impulsivity. They find a symbolic expression of their anger in such films. They may even watch such films to plan and prepare for a crime," Sharma said.


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