The post-mortem report of 10 of the 11 family members who committed mass suicide in Delhi’s Burari area was released on Wednesday, 11 July, according to ANI. The police told ANI that all 10 died of hanging and no injury marks were present on the bodies.
The report of eleventh and the eldest member Narayan Kaur is awaited, her body was found on the floor unlike those of the other 10, reported ANI.
The relatives of the deceased had earlier alleged that the 11 were murdered. However, the police had maintained that the incident appeared to be a case of a ritual gone wrong.
The deceased, seven women and four men, were identified as Narayan Devi (77) her two sons Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit (45), her daughter-in-laws Savita (48) and Teena (42), her daughter Pratibha (57) and her grandchildren Priyanka (33), Nitu (25), Monu (23), and two minors. Their bodies were cremated in Delhi’s Nigambodh Ghat on 2 July.
The Crime Branch has given a clean chit to occultist Geeta Ma who was in touch with the family, even a section of media had claimed her involvement, IANS reported, citing Deputy Commissioner of Police Joy N Tirkey as a source.
Police have more or less ruled out the involvement of any self-styled godman in the case and are probing it as a case of “shared psychosis”.
Almost a week after the deaths were discovered, news agency PTI on 6 July reported that the police was going to conduct a ‘psychological autopsy’ on the deceased members.
Crime Branch Suspects Deceased Family Member, Lalit Visited Cremation Grounds
- The Delhi Police Crime Branch suspects one of the deceased, Lalit Bhatia, visited cremation grounds and was interested in ghosts and spirits, IANS reported on Friday, 6 July, quoting an official.
- He said Lalit researched death and the mysteries of soul, apart from watching on his mobile phone the videos on paranormal and ghosts on ‘YouTube’ and other Internet platforms, the report added.
- The theory, IANS cited, was based on an entry in the registers by deceased niece Priyanka seized from the house in Burari in north Delhi.
- Priyanka had ‘liked’ a Facebook page hosting content on ghosts as well as pages with spiritual content, astrology and motivational thoughts, a Crime Branch official told IANS.
- The notes recovered from the spot discuss the act of pleasing God by replicating ‘badh tapasya’, in which people get into a banyan tree-formation whose branches hang around, reported IANS.
Police to Conduct ‘Psychological Autopsy’ on Deceased
- According to Times of India report dated 4 July, the police considered the psychological autopsy method on the suggestion of doctors from VIMHANS. A psychological autopsy involves research and interviews with kin of the deceased to understand and analyse the suicide.
- Mental health experts had earlier told PTI that victims in mass suicide cases generally “show commonalities” and suggested that a “psychological autopsy” be conducted in the case to unravel the puzzle.
- According to a PTI report dated 6 July, the autopsy is likely to be conducted at New Delhi’s Central Forensic Science Laboratory, which will form a panel of psychologists to analyse the psyche of the deceased.
- Ruling out the involvement of any self-styled godman in the case, the Delhi police is probing the deaths as a case of “shared psychosis”, reported PTI.
- Meanwhile, the Crime Branch team found a register on 3 July whose earliest entries were from 2011 and had psychological musings and notes about “salvation”, “shunya” and “appeasing God”.
- Policemen questioned 20 family members including the family matriarch’s eldest son, her daughter and one of her deceased daughters-in-law’s sisters, all of whom denied that the family indulged in “occult”, a senior police officer told PTI.
- However, the PTI report dated 6 July cited that a relative who stayed with the family a few year ago, confirmed to the police that Lalit had delusions about visitations from his dead father and had seen him assuming his alter-ego.
- The relatives of Tina’s wife also confirmed that she had told them about Lalit’s behaviour but they never suspected it would lead to such a tragedy, the officer told PTI.
- A senior officer also spoke to doctors from VIMHANS on 2 July who also opined that it was a case of “shared psychosis”, in which one person’s delusional beliefs are transmitted to others.
Suicide Likely, Post-Mortem Report Suggests
- Police suspect that the deaths were part of a suicide pact, carried out in accordance with a religious practice, as handwritten notes found on the spot indicated.
- The post-mortem examination of all eleven persons suggested suicide, Police told ANI.
- No signs of strangulation or scuffle were found.
- The elderly woman, whose body was found in the adjacent room, reportedly died on bed.
- The family members have reportedly donated their eyes.
What Initial Probe Says
- According to the police the bodies were discovered by a milkman, who had come to deliver milk at their grocery store and had gone up to their house with one of the neighbours.
- The eyes and mouths of those found hanging were covered with cloth and tape, the hands and feet of the two minor boys were found bound, the police said.
- The preliminary investigation discovered no forcible entry into the house. No signs of the house being ransacked, or missing cash, jewellery, and mobile phones were reported. The gold jewellery on the female victims’ bodies was also found intact, police said.
- Handwritten notes saying that “the human body is temporary and one can overcome fear by covering their eyes and mouth” were found at the house.
- The notes add that “if 11 people follow this ritual, their problems would end and they would attain salvation,” reported CNN News18.
- Police said that the notes also read, “Tie the tape around the eyes securely. Use cotton stoles or saris along with ropes. This should be done between midnight and 1 am on a Thursday or a Saturday,” the notes read, according to Mirror Now.
- The notes also said that “God would save them in the last minute of the ritual”, thereby preventing them from dying even if they did hang themselves, reported Hindustan Times.
What We Know About The Family
- The family ran a grocery store opposite Guru Gobind Singh Hospital in Burari, the same building as the house they were found dead in, according to PTI.
- Pratibha’s daughter Priyanka (33), an IT company employee, was engaged last month and supposed to get married this year end, PTI reported.
- Geeta Thakral, Devi’s niece, said she suspected someone from outside the family was involved in the deaths. She said the family was gearing up for the wedding of Priyanka.
- “The family business was going fine. There was no fight within the family. They were busy with wedding preparations. They were all happy. So why would they commit suicide at all,” she questioned.
- Sujata Nagpal, the daughter of the 77-year-old Narayan Devi who was found dead on the floor in the house, accused the media of speculating things and circulating suicide theories.
- “I used to speak to my mom every alternate day. Everything was going fine within our family. We are a well educated family and do not believe in babas,” she said.
- Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and BJP MP Manoj Tiwari visited the family’s home. “The neighbours said they were a loving and sociable family. We can only say more after the probe,” Kejriwal said.
- “They were living here for over 22 years. Never once did we see them quarrelling with anyone or troubling the neighbours,” said a resident, PTI quoted.
- Jatin (15), who was friends with the two boys among the deceased, said he had seen them play cricket the previous night. “They looked happy and were playing around 11 pm. Bhavnesh uncle was watching them play from his shop,” he added, according to PTI.
- The family closed the shutters of their store at 11:45 pm on 30 June, Saturday, reported CNN News18.
- Speaking to NDTV, a neighbour said that the family had turned ‘spiritual’ after Lalit Bhatia, the youngest son, regained his lost voice suddenly. Lalit had allegedly lost his voice ten years ago in an accident.
- Dinesh, another relative of the Bhatia family, said that a police complaint had been filed as the family ‘was not in contact with any baba’. He further claimed that the 11 pipes that were seen jutting out of the wall of the house were “there for ventilation.”
The Occult Practice Theory?
- Police sources added that their initial probe revealed that three of the family members had first decided to commit suicide. Police added that they then decided to kill the entire family. “They mixed sedatives with dinner the previous night and served it to the family,” police added, reported CNN News18.
- The police added that three people first bound the hands of the others so that no one could raise an alarm or escape. Police also suspect that the three hanged the others first, and took their own lives later, reported CNN News18.
- Meanwhile, 11 pipes have been found emerging from a wall near the entrance of the house.
- A report, which has been submitted by the Sub-divisional magistrate BK Jha to the crime branch indicated that the family was indulged in ‘occult practice’, reported Mirror Now. The SDM has reportedly reached this conclusion based on the practices listed out in a register that was accessed by the police.
Burari: 11 pipes found emerging from a wall near the entrance of the family’s house.