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Five theories, many questions: What cops believe may have happened to Burari family

Three weeks after 11 members of the Bhatia family were found dead in New Delhi, the police is still investigating exactly what happened. Here are five theories the police worked on to explain what happened to the Bhatia family.

delhi Updated: Jul 23, 2018 19:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Burari,Burari hangings,Burari mass suicide
A screengrab from a CCTV camera shows Burari family members carrying stools that were reportedly used in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

Eleven members of a family were found dead in New Delhi on July 1, most of them hanging from the ceiling of their home, blindfolded, gagged and with hands tied behind the back. The Delhi Police, three weeks later, is still investigating to explain what happened. Here are five theories the police worked on to explain what happened to the Bhatia family.

The family was murdered by outsiders

Reason: Family matriarch Narayan Devi’s was dead on the floor unlike 10 others who were hanging. Ligature marks on her neck and a cloth and wire wound around it initially indicated she was strangled. The bound limbs and blindfolded eyes of most of the dead also prompted police to register a murder case.

Status: The autopsy reports of all the 11 people have confirmed they died of hanging. Probe into possibility of murders continue.

It was a ritual gone wrong

Reason: The contents of 11 notebooks recovered from the house pointed to the family indulging in a ritual to invoke the higher powers and their dead patriarch Bhopal Singh. The handwritings in the notes match that of some of the dead.

Status: This is the most plausible theory the police are currently working on.

A godman or an occultist may have influenced the family

Reason: The contents of the notes led the police to believe that they were dictated by a godman or an occultist. The ritualistic processes were elaborate and police found it difficult to believe that they were performed without guidance of a godman or an occultist.

Status: So far, the police have been unable to link any occultist or godman to the deaths. Further recovery of notes helped police conclude that the ritual began in 2007, an unlikely possibility that the family was being guided by an outsider for so long.

Family was poisoned or sedated before their hanging

Reason: The police find it difficult to believe that all 11 members aged between 15 and 77 could be convinced to hang themselves. Food consumed by the family before their hangings had been ordered from outside

Status: The viscera samples of the dead people have been sent for forensic examination to determine if they were sedated or poisoned. The results are still awaited.

One or more of the family members killed others before hanging themselves

Reason: The way Narayan Devi’s body was found on the floor and the hands of two other members were untied led the police to probe this possibility.

Status: Though the autopsies have confirmed that all died of hanging, police continue to probe this possibility.

  • Autopsy reports of all the 11 people revealed they died of hanging
  • Notes recovered from the Bhatia house indicating they were performing a ritual
  • CCTV footage showing the family members "voluntarily" bringing in stools and cables used in the hanging
  • CCTV footage does not show any suspicious entry or exit from the main gate of the house around the time of the deaths
  • Statements of relatives, neighbours and friends confirming that the dead were religious and that Lalit Bhatia posed as his dead father
  • Statements of relatives and neighbours who the family spoke to in the hours preceding their deaths
  • Statements of shopkeepers who said that the stools, stoles and food were bought from them

First Published: Jul 23, 2018 11:14 IST