In a sensational claim in the alleged mass suicide of 11 members of a family in Burari area of the capital city, the Delhi Police have said that they are probing the ‘mental state’ of a deceased male member of the family who had told other family members and relatives that his father’s soul had entered his body.
The Indian Express reported that it was Lalit Bhatia (45) who had started performing ‘rituals’ after his father passed away in 2008. Police sources told the daily that Lalit had told other members of the family and relatives that his father’s soul has entered his body to advise him on various issues.
According to police, Lalit’s father Bhopal Singh had died in 2008 of natural causes. He was an ex-serviceman and had taken voluntary retirement following an injury to his leg after he fell off a horse.
According to reports, Lalit had claimed on many occasions that he had seen his late father in his dream. Lalit was among 11 members (7 ladies and 4 men) who had allegedly hanged themselves inside their Burari residence late on Saturday night.
Eyes of all the members were covered and hands were tied up sturdy. The body of Narayani, 77, the eldest member in the family, was found on the floor of another room of the house. The deceased persons included Narayani Devi, brothers Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit (45), sisters-in-law Savita (48) and Teena (42), sister Pratibha (57), nephews Dhruv (15) and Shivam (15) and nieces Priyanka (33), Nidhi (25) and Maneka (23).
The family belonged to the Rajput community and had migrated to Delhi from Rajasthan two decades ago. The family had a plywood business and a grocery store in Burari.
Police said that Lalit had a habit of maintaining a daily diary. They said that he was recording the habits of all members of the family in his diary. They said that the diary has been sent to handwriting experts to compare it with two registers that were seized from the house detailing steps on how to attain salvation.
Citing sources, it said that after Bhopal Singh’s demise, Lalit had become “very introverted”. He used to speak less frequently to others and stayed to himself after the death of his father. They said that soon, he started offering prayers in front of trees and feeding animals.
“One day, he told his family members that his father’s soul had entered his body and was advising him on steps to follow for a good life,” they said.
Since 2013, Lalit had been maintaining a diary on his father’s ‘instructions’. The family was religious and believed him, sources told IE.
A few years ago, one member had claimed that Lalit’s speech was partially impaired when plywood fell on his head in the shop. He believed that he recovered because of the rituals he had been practising.
On Saturday night, the family had ordered food from a restaurant. Before hanging themselves, the family had performed some rituals. The register mentioned that to attain salvation, it should be done either on Wednesday or Sunday. All of them died post-midnight.
According to police’s theory, Lalit drove the ‘mass suicide’ and jotted down the notes that included directions to attain salvation. Since the family was very superstitious, they believed Lalit. One of Lalit’s notes appeared to predict doomsday. It said that the family will be saved if a few rituals are performed.
Lalit had allegedly told family members that his father delivered this message to him and that everyone should follow it. The family agreed to Lalit and believed that the world was ending. Police said that everything was planned and written in the seized documents well in advance. They said that direct links can be established with the entries made in the register and how things unfolded on Saturday night.
The entries said that everyone will tie their own hands and when the ritual is done, everyone will help each other untie their hands. Narayan Devi was described as ‘bebbe’ in the notes. It was written that the family should order 20 rotis. The rotis were delivered to the family at 10:40 pm. It was written that Narayan Devi will feed ever member rotis. It talked about someone will come to rescue them at the time when the world will end.
The entry read: “Antim samay mein, aakhri ichha ki purti ke waqt, aasman hilegi dharti kaanpegi, us waqt tum ghabrana mat, mantra ka jaap badha dena, mein aakar utar loonga aur ko bhi utarne mein madad karunga.”
Sources said that the way bodies were found hanging and were close to each other resemble the roots of the banyan tree. In the register, which police seized from the house, there is an entry on worshipping a banyan tree.
Police said that on June 27 night, the family had worshipped a banyan tree because it was of the Vat Purnima.
On Monday, post-mortem report revealed that all members of the family died of hanging. Later at around 4:45 pm, their bodies were consigned to the flames at the Nigambodh ghat. Relatives, friends have turned up for the cremation.
While all other developments corroborate the notings in the diary and registers, one curious finding has left investigators flummoxed. The presence of 11 pipes jutting out of the building found in the probe is still unexplained. Police are still clueless over why these pipes were placed so unusually when there was no water outlet at the point at which they were placed. When the contractor was questioned why he had laid down so many pipes in such a manner where there was no water outlest inside the house, he said that it was Lalit who had asked him to place these pipes.