Soon after the news of the alleged murder of 26-year-old Shraddha Walker in Delhi’s Mehrauli by her partner became viral, the religion of the accused, Aftab Ameen Poonawalla, became a bone of contention on social media. (Some media outlets used slightly different spellings for the name)

A twitter user called ‘the dude’ posted a screenshot of Poonawalla’s Facebook profile and wrote, “Although Poonawala is usually a Parsi surname and the accused claims himself to be humanist, such a heinous crime against a woman should not go unpunished. Regardless of his beliefs he should be given harshest possible punishment. At the same time, we need to call out ++” (Archive)

Another user with the name ‘RVAIDYA2000’ wrote, “Youngistan me confuzed as usual: This Aftab Poonawala is a Shia or Bhora or Parsi or ?? Many media differ+ there are many other poonawalas floating around–all one set:))))) RT”. (Archive)

Replying to a tweet by user Anshul Saxena, user ‘MaynZalik’ simply wrote “Aftab Parsi Poonawala Not muslim”. (Archive)

Another Twitter user, ‘Yedz’, quote-tweeted NDTV’s report of the incident and claimed in his tweet that the accused was a Parsi and not a Muslim. (Archive)

Some also claimed that the accused was a Hindu.

Some others claimed he was a ‘Sindhi’.


While looking into the matter, Alt News checked Poonawalla’s Instagram profile, and found that replying to a comment to one of his posts, he had written, “I am a Muslim, and the other tern you’re is Hindu. Lord Krishna is the God of Hindus. May I ask why the certain inquisitiveness about my religion?”

Alt News also accessed the FIR copy of the incident and found that according to the victim’s father, Poonawalla was a Muslim. The relevant part of the police complaint can be translated as “My daughter had told my wife in 2019 that she was in a live-in relationship with Aftab Amin Poonawala. Me and my wife did not agree to this because the guy was a Muslim and inter-caste/inter-religion marriage was not accepted in our social circle…”

Based on Poonawalla’s own admission on his Instagram page and the FIR copy, we can confirm that he is a Muslim by religion. Contrary claims made on social media, that he is a Parsi or a Hindu, are not true.

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About the Author

Indradeep, a journalist with over 10 years' experience in print and digital media, is a Senior Editor at Alt News. Earlier, he has worked with The Times of India and The Wire. Politics and literature are among his areas of interest.