Burari deaths: Family could have been suffering from ‘shared psychotic disorder’, says Delhi Police

Updated on Jul 03, 2018 11:43 PM IST

The Delhi Police has also recovered more handwritten notes, suggesting that the Burari family -- 11 members of which were found dead at their home -- may have dabbled in occult practises since 2007.

Ambulances carrying the bodies of 11 members of a family at Burari village in Delhi.(Sanchit Khanna/HT File Photo)
Ambulances carrying the bodies of 11 members of a family at Burari village in Delhi.(Sanchit Khanna/HT File Photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByKarn Pratap Singh and Shiv Sunny

The Delhi Police team investigating the mysterious deaths of 11 members of a family in their north Delhi home recovered more hand-written notes, suggesting they may have dabbled in occult practises since 2007. According to the police, the deaths of the 11 in the Burari neighbourhood may have been a ritualistic mass suicide.

Police said the fresh handwritten notes they recovered from one of the rooms were written way back in 2007, when the patriarch of the family died. “The entire family was devastated by the death, but his youngest son Lalit Bhatia was the most affected,” an investigator said on condition of anonymity .

The recovered notes have still not helped the police solve the mystery about the 11 “haphazardly placed” plastic pipes protruding out of the three-storey house. The mystery over the pipes deepened when the police realised that seven of the 11 pipes were bent downwards while the rest were straight. “It could be a coincidence, but we are puzzled as the dead included seven females and four males,” the investigator said.

The police also had a theory to explain why the main gate of the house was left open by its occupants. “We are working on two theories. Either the family believed that a superpower would enter through the gate and save them the moment they hanged (themselves), or a 12th person was present in the house,” said the officer cited above.

Interactions with a couple of local residents revealed that the family had casually mentioned that Lalit Bhatia would see his father in his dreams and had been “possessed” by his father’s soul. “Lalit would often speak in his dead father’s voice and tone and would claim that he could see his father,” said the investigator.

The probe so far has suggested that it was Lalit Bhatia who was writing all the notes and was leading the “ritualistic practices.”

“Our interaction with psychologists has indicated that the family could be suffering from ‘shared psychotic disorder’ in which all the members in a group do the bidding of their leader as they trust them unconditionally and believe they would be led out of the worldly problems,” said another senior police officer on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, a team from the crime branch visited the Bhatia house and searched the place. They began by observing the pipes from outside before searching the top two floors and the terrace of the three-storey building.

“We found over 25 small and large notebooks, registers and pages containing hand-written content. They were found in a blue bag in what looked like the study room of the two teenagers, Dhruv and Shivam,” said an officer, adding the handwriting in the new notes appeared similar to those in two the previously recovered notebooks. “We are yet to find notes dating from 2011 to 2015. Also, we couldn’t find notes between December 2017 and March 2018 when the mention of rituals began,” said the officer.

Though police said they were yet to go through all the contents of the new notes, the analysed content did not name any oculist or godman. “The contents were mainly about the father of Lalit Bhatia. We suspect Lalit wrote these notes,” said another officer.

The police also spoke to the owner of a restaurant and its 17-year-old delivery boy, who had delivered 20 ‘butter rotis’ to the family at 10.40pm on Saturday. “We want to be sure the food was not laced with sedatives. The viscera report will be able to clarify this,” said the officer.

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