Relatives mourn during cremation of the 11 members of a family, who were found hanging in their house in Burari, at Nigambodh Ghat in New Delhi. Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The relatives of 11 family members found hanging in their Burari house denounced the police and the media for allegedly characterising the deceased as some sort of fanatics and demanded a CBI probe into the case.

Ketan Nagpal, a maternal grandson of deceased septuagenarian Narayani Devi, said: “Every Hindu family performs ‘havans’, ‘paath’ and ‘kirtans’ and so did our family. That is so common in every household and temples. But police have failed to crack the case despite the media reporting on the basis of police probe to paint us as a family of maniacs.”

“We are not happy with the Crime Branch investigation so far and demand a fair probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation. We cannot believe Lalit Bhatia indulged in the killing of his family under some mania,” Nagpal said.

A Crime Branch team meanwhile visited the family’s residence in north Delhi’s Sant Nagar and tried to recreate the sequence of events.

Police have also questioned some relatives of the deceased family members, who have since come to Delhi from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, to know whether any of the deceased family members was in touch with any self-styled spiritual guru or occultist before their deaths.

“Five stools used by the family for hanging from iron grills have been seized,” a senior police officer said, adding that new sashes were used to make the nooses used for hanging.

“The stools were purchased five days ago. When a neighbour asked the family, (one of the deceased) Lalit Bhatia’s wife Tina said these were meant for use by children for studies,” he said.

“An entry in a diary seized from worship area in the house said that each participant will tie his or her hands during the ritual practice and later untie those of others,” the officer added.

“Police is also probing the case from an angle of mental disorder,” he said.

The officer claimed that Lalit Bhatia kept two registers and read a ‘Laal Kitaab’, hinting at mysticism. He had been writing them since 2015 as per the entries. He also mentioned in the notes about his father’s visits in his dreams and talks, the officer said.

The texts discussed spirituality, rituals, and a few dates of last month. Some notes were written on June 27 and 28 on the day of ‘Vat Purnima’.

“The notes indicated that Lalit Bhatia believed that his late father was still giving him advice. The notes pointed at one man’s hallucinations and delusions of an impending apocalypse,” he said.

The officer claimed that Lalit Bhatia, on the day of the crime, allegedly told his family that he had received a message from his late father that he would come to meet them all after a ritual prayer.

“Based on our investigations, it is very likely that Lalit Bhatia tied the hands of the male family members while his wife Tina tied the hands and legs of women family members. He later tied the hands and mouth of Tina and then hung himself during the ritual prayer,” he added.

“Experts will examine the handwriting of Lalit Bhatia to match with notes on seized diary and registers. The call records of the entire family are being examining to ascertain whether they were in contact with any occultist or guru, or any personal enmity with the family,” Joint Commissioner of Police Alok Kumar said.

As per the preliminary post-mortem reports, all family members died of hanging on Sunday.

The deceased were Narayani Devi, 77, her sons Bhavnesh Bhatia, 50, and Lalit Bhatia, 45, and daughters Pratibha, 57, and Priyanka, 33.

Bhavnesh’s wife Savita, 48, and their children Nitu, 25, Monu, 23, and Dhruv, 15, were also found dead, along with Lalit’s wife Tina, 42, and their son Shivam, 15.