New Delhi: Hours after 11 members of a family, including two minor boys, were found dead at their home in north Delhi’s Burari neighbourhood, investigators on Monday came across 11 pipes jutting out of a wall, with no water outlet.
The police swung into action after journalists spotted the pipes outside the house facing an empty plot.
“There are 11 pipes protruding from one wall of the house with no water outlet. Four of the pipes point straight while four are bent. One pipe is a little away from the others. We are investigating the purpose of these 11 pipes, whether they were used for occult or drainage purposes,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar told media.
Police are yet to establish whether it was a mass suicide or murder-suicide.
By Monday evening, post mortem of six bodies was completed. The autopsy report mentions “ligature hanging” as the reason behind death.
Only two family members — matriarch Narayan Devi’s oldest son Dinesh, who lives in Kota, Rajasthan, and daughter Sujata, who lives with her family in Panipat, Haryana — are alive.
“I can’t believe that my family committed suicide. Everyone was so happy. There cannot be any spiritual angle. My family was religious but they could not have committed suicide. They sounded happy hours before their death when I had called them. I spoke to most of them and there was absolutely no hint of depression in their voice. They were excited about my niece Priyanka’s wedding later this year. Someone has killed my family and the police have to find them,” Sujata Bhatia told media after she reached Delhi on Monday.
Police suspect the Bhatia family followed some religious practice on the instructions of a godman to “attain salvation.”
The discovery of handwritten notes has deepened the mystery.
“The human body is temporary and one can overcome fear and attain salvation by covering one’s eyes and mouth while dying,” one note read.
According to police, there was no financial trouble in the family. However, it is believed that the family became deeply religious after the younger son lost his voice in an accident.
“Some relatives have mentioned that the son’s dead father appeared in his dream once and advised him to pray a lot to get his voice back. That is when the family turned to religion in a big way,” police said in a statement.
The handwritten notes had strong similarity with the manner in which the mouths, eyes and legs of the deceased were tied and taped.
“The diary found at the site indicates that the deaths were planned and that the family followed so-called instructions for mass salvation,” the police said.
Most of the family members were hanging from the ceiling, blindfolded, gagged and with hands tied behind the back. Only one, 77-year-old Narayan Devi, was found on the floor, with signs of strangling.
The 10 others, including Narayan Devi’s daughter Pratibha, 57, sons Bhavnesh, 50, and Lalit Bhatia, 45, and their families, were found hanging from a net attached to the ceiling.
Bhavnesh’s wife Savita, 48, and their three children Meenu, 23, Neetu, 25, and 15-year-old Dhruv, and Lalit Bhatia’s wife Tina, 42, and their 15-year-old son Shivam were also hanging. Pratibha’s daughter Priyanka, 33, who was engaged last month, was also found hanging.