New Delhi: In July 2018, 11 members of a family died in a house in Delhi’s Burari area, allegedly following an occult practice gone wrong. Two and a half years since, the neighbours say they still experience an eerie sensation outside the house, but its new occupants brush off all such talk.
They describe the house as nice and spacious. And then there is the fact that the rent is dirt cheap — driven down by the “horror house” tag it now courts.
The three-storey house is currently inhabited by two families — the Kashyaps live on the ground floor and also run a diagnostic centre on the premises, while the Alis, who have been taking care of the property since 2018, live on the first and second floors.
The first floor is where the 11 members of the Chundawat family — the oldest aged 77, and the youngest, all of 15 — died on the night of 30 June 2018.
The house and its notoriety form a difficult legacy for Dinesh Singh Chundawat, a Chittorgarh-based contractor whose younger brother allegedly spearheaded the occult ritual that resulted in the family’s death. When the time is right, he told ThePrint, he wants to sell it.
“Nobody wants this negative attention,” he said, talking of people who throng the house for a “glimpse”. “When the time comes and people have stopped coming here, looking for the house as if it’s some museum, I will hopefully get the right price,” he added.
‘Don’t go upstairs’
When the Burari case was first reported, it caused widespread shock. Media reports about an entire family found hanging were followed by social media footage and photos of the grisly scene.
The bodies of ten members of the family were found hanging — Lalit (45), his elder brother Bhavnesh Singh (50), their respective wives Tina (42) and Savita (48), children Neetu (25), Monu alias Maneka (23), Dhruv alias Dushyant (15), and Shivam (15), their sister Pratibha alias Baby (48), and her daughter Priyanka (33).
They were found hanging in a circular formation, blindfolded, gagged with surgical tape, with their limbs tied up.
One member — family matriarch Narayani Devi (77) — was found dead on the floor of another room, which remains locked to this day.
Diaries found in the house allegedly suggested the family was trying to perform a ritual to express gratitude to gods. It is believed the exercise was led by Lalit, whose family thought he had channelled the spirit of his father Bhopal Singh after his death in 2006.
The family’s house is a 1,070-square-foot property in Burari, in north Delhi.
In the time since the deaths, Chundawat said, the area has been drawing visitors eager to see the “horror house”. Closer home, neighbours insist they get chills around the house, and there is talk about “those spirits” roaming inside.
When ThePrint visited the house this past week, a cobbler who sits right outside the lane told this reporter, “Baal bandh lo, aur upar mat jana (Tie your hair and don’t go upstairs).”
A neighbour said it “has taken us a lot of time to deal with the incident”. “Even now, when we pass by the house, the flashbacks come. Horror or not, the situation is definitely scary,” said the neighbour, not wishing to be named.
“For a lot of time, we avoided this route and went from the other end of the road. Many asked us how we plan to survive here, with all the talk about ghosts and spirits, but we can’t live with superstition,” the neighbour said. “The family moved in here, so it gives us all courage, but the holes in the walls are still scary. It will never be the same here.”
The holes the neighbour was referring to remain one of the deepest mysteries surrounding the house — the family’s house had 11 pipes protruding outside in a bizarre, irregular manner through one of the walls facing an empty plot. To add to the mystery, they were not found connected to any water inlet or outlet.
The fact that there were as many pipes as bodies led to rumours that the family had had them installed as channels for their spirits, even though the family’s carpenter, Ahmed Ali, who now lives in the house, claims they were meant for ventilation.
Whatever the reason, Chundawat had the pipes removed soon afterwards. The marks remain, though.
“I removed those pipes as they gave everyone in the neighbourhood an unusual feeling. I didn’t want my brother’s house to be called a bhoot bangla (ghost house),” he said.
“So, we removed them as quickly as possible. In fact, to make people understand that these are superstitions, my family and I started living there right after the interrogation was over. A lot of people warned me to do a puja then, but I only did it later. Not because I am an atheist, but because I didn’t want the last mark of my family to be called ghostly,” he added.
All the possessions of the family — clothes, furniture, books — have been given away to orphanages and old-age homes, he said.
The ground floor of the house now hosts Dhruv Diagnostics Laboratory, which is run by Dr Mohan Singh Kashyap and his family.
Kashyap’s family moved into the house in January 2020. The rent was a clincher, they said.
Before moving in, they added, they organised a havan.
The family said it steers clear of the first floor, but is otherwise dismissive of the spooky rumours surrounding the house.
“Logon ka kaam hai baat karna, karte rahenge. Hume koi dikkat nahi hai. Ghar bada, accha hai (People keep talking, let them. We have no problem here, the house is big, nice),” said a member of the Kashyap household, not wishing to be named.
Their upstairs neighbours, brothers Ahmed and Afsar Ali, moved in much before, within 2018. Carpenters by profession, the brothers started living here after the keys were handed back by police, without rent.
Initial days in the house were scary, the brothers admit, and the talk around the neighbourhood didn’t help.
Ahmed would be so spooked in the first few days that he slept on the terrace — avoiding the first floor on his way there. But two years on, he has got over his fears. “I wouldn’t be living in the house if it was really spooky,” he said.
The brothers take care of the house.
He has tenants now, but it’s not been easy for Chundawat. He first tried renting out the ground floor six months after the deaths, but a woman looking for space to set up a grocery shop got spooked and backed out, after paying Rs 35,000 as deposit, he said.
“Initially, I had plans to sell the house but, with these rumours, it was nearly impossible to find a good bidder. Everyone wanted a free share, we can’t do that, which is why only the Ali brothers stayed there for a year before the Kashyaps sought to rent the place,” he added.
Chundawat said the house was valued at around Rs 3 crore in 2018. Cut to the present, he added, he was taking Rs 10,000 as rent from the Kashyaps.
Since the Covid pandemic began, Chundawat said, he hasn’t been taking any money from the family since the diagnostic centre hasn’t been doing well.
“I couldn’t live in my house here all the time, so it was best to put it on rent,” he added. “They (Kashyaps) are a nice family and it also rubbishes the rumours of it being a haunted house.”