New Delhi: The death of 11 members of a family in north Delhi’s Burari locality remained shrouded in mystery with the police recovering handwritten notes about “attaining salvation” which fueled rumours and circulation of multiple theories, even as the post-mortem report showed no sign of struggle.
The police said that initial reports indicate suicide although the matter was being probed. The kin of the deceased, however, claimed that the family members were killed.
Ten of the 11 members of the Bhatia family were found hanging from an iron-mesh in the ceiling on Sunday, while the body of 77-year-old Narayan Devi, the head of the family, was lying on the floor in another room of the house. The last rites of the victims were held at Nigambodh Ghat on Monday evening.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar said the autopsy of the 11 bodies had been carried out and initial reports indicate suicide, but the matter is being investigated.
The handwritten notes, found in two registers, have foxed the investigators who said that they have not seen anything like this earlier.
The notes suggest the Bhatia family might have been trying to replicate the “badh tapasya”.
Police said the two registers found at a temple inside the house had notes mentioning ‘salvation’, ‘badh tapasya’, ‘shunya’.
“The notes state that if one follows a set of rituals, their problems would be solved and God would be happy. It seems that the rituals went awry. The notes mention how after climbing the stool and covering one’s face and taping the mouth, and wrapping a chunni around one’s neck, one has to climb down and help others,” an officer privy to the probe said.
The notes mention doing a ‘jaap’ before starting the rituals and think about ‘shunya’, so that other thoughts do not cloud their minds.
The oldest entry in the registers was made in August 2015 and the latest on June 30 this year. The family is believed to have performed the rituals on June 30, a day before the bodies were found.
“The earliest entries are about philosophical musings and religious beliefs. Every entry in the registers would begin with a ‘shree’. There have been months when no entries were made,” he said.
The officer said entries on rituals to please God to get the family’s issues resolved began earlier this year.
“There are notes on ‘badh tapasya’, in which people get into a banyan tree-formation whose branches hang around. The notes say that doing this would make God happy,” he added.
The notes also ask the participants to “be cautious” when performing the rituals. They say that participants won’t cook food at home and keep their phones on silent mode for six hours on the day they perform the rituals.
The notes also instruct that one person has to stand guard to ensure others have hanged themselves, the official said.
Police suspect the family had ordered food from outside and are trying to find from where they had ordered the food.
They detailed how by following the rituals, one would not actually die “but would be saved by God and attain something great”.
They had instructions on how an elderly person, who may face problem in climbing a stool, can perform the rituals. The notes also had specific instructions on how stools have to be used for climbing.
Meanwhile, the mystery of 11 pipes jutting out from a wall of the house led to many rumours being circulated in the area, even as the police dismissed any link between the pipes and the deaths. Locals claimed that the 11 pipes were an outlet for “the souls of the deceased”.
However, a neighbour said the family, which was into plywood business, had installed the pipes so that toxic fumes from the chemicals applied on plywood could be released through those.
The 11 people aged between 15 and 77 were found dead in their home in Burari area on Sunday. The deceased had their mouth taped and their faces covered with cloth pieces cut from a single bed-sheet. Except for a 77-year-old woman, the other 10 people were found hanging from the iron-mesh in the ceiling of the house.
Police are probing whether the family followed any godman, who might have issued the instructions found in the notes.
The notes had stated that “the human body is temporary and one can overcome fear by covering their eyes and mouth.”
Police said the registers will be sent for forensic analysis to determine which family member made the entries or whether they were written by different members at different points of time.
They are scanning through the cell-phones of the deceased to know about the details of their Internet search history. The cell-phones were found in an almirah and were wrapped in a polythene bag.