NEW DELHI: A day after 11 of a family were found mysteriously dead in their home in Delhi, an autopsy has confirmed death because of hanging for at least six. The bodies of three generations of the Bhatia family were discovered in their home in north Delhi’s Burari by a neighbour who grew suspicious when he found their grocery shop shut on Sunday morning. The police are yet to establish the sequence of the deaths; whether it was a mass suicide or murder-suicide. A case of murder has been filed after handwritten notes revealed a possible spiritual connection to the deaths, say the police.
All but one of the bodies were hanging from the ceiling, most of them were blindfolded, gagged and their hands tied behind the back. The bodies will be cremated in Delhi today.
The oldest member of the family, 77-year-old Narayan Devi, was found on the floor, with signs of strangling. The others were hanging from a railing attached to the ceiling, media reports said.
The others found dead were Narayan Devi’s daughter Pratibha, 57, sons Bhavnesh, 50, and Lalit Bhatia, 45, and their families. Bhavnesh’s wife Savita, 48, and their three children Meenu, 23, Neetu, 25, and 15-year-old Dhruv were found hanging. So were Lalit Bhatia’s wife Tina, 42, and their 15-year-old son Shivam.
Pratibha’s daughter Priyanka, 33, who was engaged to be married last month, was also hanging. An IT company employee, she was said to be excited about the wedding later this year.
Narayan Devi had one more son and daughter who lived away and are said to be in shock. Her eldest son Dinesh Bhatia lives in Kota, Rajasthan and daughter Sujata lives in Panipat.
“I can’t believe that they committed suicide. Everyone was so happy. Someone has killed my family and the police have to find them,” Sujata Bhatia was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
CCTV footage shows that a food was delivered at the Bhatia home on Saturday night, around 10:40 pm. No one was seen entering or leaving the house after that, until the neighbour who found the bodies on Sunday.
A police statement said some handwritten notes were found in the house “which point towards observance of some definite spiritual/mystical practices by the whole family”.
The notes had “strong similarity with the manner in which the mouths, eyes etc of the deceased were tied and taped,” said the police.
The police first suspected a connection to a gang war in which three were killed last month. On June 18, members of rival gangs opened fire on each other in the main Burari market, killing three people and wounding five. No link has been found to the family deaths.