A 77-year-old matriarch and 10 members of her family were found dead at their Delhi home Sunday morning.
New Delhi: Eleven members of a Delhi family were found dead at their Burari home Sunday morning, 10 of them hanging and one lying on the floor. The dead spanned ages 15 to 77.
The positions of the bodies found hanging – said to be “too close to the floor” – have reportedly aroused suspicion, with each of them also blindfolded and gagged.
Police said the crime scene bore no sign of robbery being a motive, with the gold jewellery the women victims were wearing undisturbed. They added that handwritten notes found in the house “pointed towards observance of some definite spiritual/mystical practices by the whole family”.
“Coincidentally, these notes have strong similarity with the manner in which the mouths, eyes etc of the deceased were tied and taped,” police said, adding that an investigation was underway to establish possible links.
It was around 7.30 am that Delhi Police received an alert about “six to seven suicides” at the Bhatia residence in Burari. They arrived at the scene to find 11 members of the family dead at their residence in Gali number 4.
Narayan (77), the matriarch, was found lying on the floor. She had lived in the two-storey house with two sons, Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit (45), and one daughter, Pratibha (57), for nearly 25 years, a local said.
Apart from Narayan and her children, the deceased were identified as Pratibha’s daughter Priyanka (33), Bhavnesh’s wife Savita (48) and their daughters, Nitu (25) and Monu (23), and son, Dhruv (15), and Lalit’s wife Teena (42) and their son Shivam (15).
The Bhatia residence is situated right opposite the Guru Gobind Singh Hospital in Burari. Swarming with cops and teeming with locals and reporters, Burari was tense as news of the deaths spread.
The narrow lane that leads up to the house has been cordoned off by police, who could be seen talking in hushed tones. As information on the exact nature of the deaths remained elusive, locals and passerby wondered if there was foul play.
Some locals said CCTV cameras in the area could have helped solve the murder.
What we know
While the family lived on the first floor of the house, they ran a grocery shop on the ground floor. A neighbour looking to buy milk in the morning found the door unlocked. Thinking it suspicious, the neighbour entered the house and discovered Narayan’s body. Police were immediately alerted.
“Just yesterday evening I purchased utilities worth Rs 120 from their store. Everything seemed perfectly normal. I was a regular at their store. The news is so shocking and unsettling,” Pushpa, a local, told ThePrint.
Chandrakanta, who runs a store nearby, added, “I used to run into all of them off and on. They were extremely sweet people. I still can’t believe what has happened.”
The incident has caught the attention of the capital, and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, and Congress leader J.P. Aggarwal visited the area to express their condolences.
Narayan’s surviving daughter, who lives in Panipat, arrived at the house, while another son, who lives in Rajasthan, was said to be on his way. Police have not yet confirmed their names.
Special commissioner of police Sandip Goyal and joint commissioner of police Rajesh Khurana also visited the scene.
Police have filed a murder case, ordered an autopsy and handed the case over to the crime branch.
“Investigations are underway, it is too soon to comment on the situation yet. We will have to wait and see,” inspector Narender Singh told ThePrint.
Joint commissioner of police (crime) Alok Kumar, however, refuted reports that the families were given drinks laced with sedatives, also denying the possibility of the deaths being an inside job.
“The handwritten notes we have found have detailed accounts of the way the deaths were going to take place; they even describe what was to be used and how to tie the knot,” he added.
“The initial investigation, the way their hands were tied and mouths gagged, led us to register a case of murder. However, the investigation as of now points more towards suicide,” Kumar said, adding that there were no signs of struggle on the bodies.