It's been nearly a week since the gruesome killing of a 27-year-old girl Shraddha Walkar came to light. And since then, social media platforms have been filled with hate comments. Gaslighting, victim blaming, remarks laced with Islamophobia— the Internet is filled with them.
On Saturday, Shraddha's partner 28-year-old Aftab Poonawala was arrested who allegedly killed her and then chopped her body and stored it in a fridge. The police say he disposed off the pieces at several locations across the city over the next few weeks.
One of the top search terms related to Aftab Poonawala and Shraddha Walkar is Instagram, reveal Google trends. It indicates that people are searching to find their social media profiles, possibly to know more about these two people.
But it's also likely that they are searching for their social media profiles to leave their comments on their posts. Several fake accounts on Instagram of both Shraddha and Aftab have emerged.
Shraddha's Instagram: Hotbed Of Moral Policing
A look at Shraddha Walkar's Instagram account reveals the collective hatred against women.
The last photo that was posted from Shraddha's account on May 11 has nearly 5,000 comments. The photo of her reading a magazine has several comments saying "You should have listened to your parents".
The comments are a reflection of how people easily jump to blame the victim, especially in cases of gender violence.
"Dear Thatsshortrebel. You rebelled against your parents. Look where did this land you at?," one of the users commented. "Moral of the story..... Never ever separate from your parents just for a tinder lover guy, doesn't matter if it a Muslim or someone else," another comment reads.
Aftab and Shraddha had reportedly met on a dating app – Bumble in 2019. Both hailed from the Vasai area of Mumbai and were working at a call centre in the same city. After some months of the relationship, she moved to Poonawala's house in Naigaon Mumbai and then shifted to Vasai till they moved to Delhi.
The selfie that Walkar had posted with Poonawala on February 14 with the caption "Happy days" have received 2,368 comments. Most of them have been posted in the last three days. The mocking of her caption also came with the use of obscene language.
"Or Happy hu Gayi (Are you happy now?)," one of the comments read on the post. "Kuttey ke mout mari gyi happy days , Happy life in hell with 35 pieces," another person commented.
The moral policing is not limited to online though. Speaking on the gruesome murder of Shraddha Walkar, Union Minister Kaushal Kishore blamed "educated girls" who leave their parents to be in live-in relationships. "Educated girls should not get into such relationships. They should learn from such incidents. They should stay with someone with the approval of their parents," he said.
The Reeking Islamophobia
The moral policing also comes laced with Islamophobia. "Kabhi bhi ek hindu larki ko kisi bhi muslim par trust nhi karna chahiye (A Hindu girl should never trust a Muslim man)", a comment reads.
Using abusive language, many other Instagram users asked Hindu women to "stay away from Muslim men". Some of the comments demanded a ban on the Islam religion in India.
"Ese 1000 case aur aane chahiye minimum... Nahi to ye ladkiya abhi b kah rhi ki mera abdul to in sabse alag hai (Thousands of such cases should happen otherwise girls will still claim that their Muslim partners are not like him)" a user has replied to a comment posted on Walkar's Instagram post.
"Stay away from Abduls Girls. Stay away from this Arabic cult. Treating women as an animal is supported by their book," another comment read.
"These inter-religious marriages are happening mostly amongst the educated and rich people," an Instagram user wrote.
Some of the top searches on Google trends for Aftab Poonawala are questions on his religion. "What is Aftab's religion?" "Is Aftab Poonawala Muslim?" are on the list of top queries.
On one of Shraddha's Instagram post, a user warns 'liberal Hindu woman' to be wary of Muslims as, they say, "Aftab used to butcher animals since childhood on every Bakra Eid and it wasn't hard for him to cut his 'kafir' girlfriend into 35 pieces."
Aftab Poonawalla, 28, studied at St Francis High School in Vasai and completed his graduation from LS Raheja College.
An ardent foodie and food blogger, he has an Instagram account dedicated to it. With around 28,400 followers, the account was quiet popular where he reviewed foods and restaurants.
On Aftab's Facebook photos, comments mock the women he had uploaded photos with.