NEW DELHI: In a macabre incident, 11 members of a family were found dead – some of them blindfolded and hanging from an iron grill in the ceiling — at their home in Delhi on Sunday. There is no clarity yet whether it was a mass suicide or a suicide-cum-murder. One theory is that one of the dead could have killed the others and later committed suicide. The police have registered a murder case, thus ruling out suicide by all of the 11 dead.
This theory is built around the hypotheses that the dinner of the deceased was laced with sedatives following which they fell unconscious. The person who planned the murders then hung the family members one by one; but while he was doing so, one woman (75-year-old Pratibha) woke up. Her throat was slit to stop her from alerting the neighbours or escaping.
The family’s pet Labrador was chained on the terrace of the house and there was no unusual barking. Finger prints have been collected from the dog’s leash. Interestingly, the house was neither ransacked, nor any precious item, including mobile phones, were found missing. No suicide note was found either.
A team of forensic experts has found that the mouths of all the 11 members were taped so that would not make a sound, should any of them wake up. This is where the occult theory comes in. Certain hand written notes that were found show the family would often conduct some sort of ritualistic\mystical practices. There were strong similarities between what was in these notes and the manner in which the deceased family members’ eyes and mouths were covered. One of the notes read, “If you use a stool, tie your hands and cover your eyes, you will attain moksha.”
Another note that said, “The human body is temporary and one can overcome fear by covering eyes and mouth,” also suggests a Tantrik angle to the deaths. The deceased Bhatia family ran a grocery shop and plywood business close to their residence. They had been living in the area for the last two decades.
A neighbor was the first to discover the bodies. The dead included three teenagers. The horrific scene of a middle aged man and a woman as well as two boys and a girl hanging from the ceiling went viral on the social media. “Prima facie, we suspect they committed suicide but we are also investigating the case from other possible angles of homicide. We are not ruling out anything. We are also checking the CCTV footages,” said a police officer.
Among the victims, there were two brothers: Bhupinder, the grocery store owner, and Lalit Singh, who ran the plywood store. A neighbour who refused to believe that it was a case of mass suicide said Lalit and Bhupinder were very friendly persons. “I spoke to Bhupinder last night. He was very happy and there was no sign of any stress.”
While the family resided on the first floor of the building, the ground floor housed their shop. According to a source, the house was undergoing renovation. Recently, the family had sold their store and a hefty amount of cash was kept in the house. Considering this, the incident could be a case of murder. However, the details can only be ascertained after the post-mortem report is released. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited Burari. ‘‘It is a tragic incident. I have spoken to the police. Let’s wait for their investigation to be over,” Kejriwal told reporters.