Burari family of 11 waited for God to save them, instead got death
The recoveries of the notes, the signs of a ‘hawan’ in the house and the manner in which the bodies were found have given police enough reasons to suspect that the family might have died in a religious ritual gone wrong.
The 11 members of a family, who were found dead in north Delhi’s Burari on Sunday morning, seemed to have reposed their faith on one thing — that God will miraculously appear and save them the moment they hanged themselves.
On Sunday morning, when police started their probe in the case, they suspected it to be a suicide pact. However, investigators remained clueless for over two hours about the motive until they chanced upon a detailed one-page hand-written note in the prayer area of the family’s house. Soon, police also recovered two notebooks, the pages of which discussed spirituality, salvation, the ritual and mentioned a few dates.
The recoveries of the notes, the signs of a ‘hawan’(a ritual involving burning of offerings such as ghee and grains) in the house and the manner in which the bodies were found have given police enough reasons to suspect that the family might have died in a religious ritual gone wrong.
“Almost every step mentioned in the note seems to be have been religiously followed by the family,” said a police officer.
The steps for “obtaining salvation” were written point wise in Hindi, each marked with an arrow. One important rule was that the family was to avoid using mobile phones and not disclose the rituals to anyone else. It took the police a few hours to recover their mobile phones from the house. Police refused to disclose from where they recovered the phones from inside the house.
As per the note, the ritual could only have been performed on Tuesdays, Saturdays or Sundays. “The family chose the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday as they wanted to avoid error or confusion. Since the ritual was lengthy, they probably performed it during the night to avoid any interference,” the officer said.
“The note spoke about the widows hanging separately. The 77-year-old Narayan Devi was found dead in an adjacent room and her widowed daughter was found hanging from a window grille, away from the rest of the family,” said the officer.
In keeping with instructions found in the note, the men of the family — Bhavnesh and Lalit — were found hanging next to each other. Similarly, the wives of Bhavnesh amd Lalit were found hanging next to each other from the iron grille as were the children and their 33-year-old niece, Priyanka.
“The ritual required participants to tie their hands and legs, blindfold and gag themselves and stuff their ears with cotton balls. Only Lalit’s wife Tina did not have any restrains on her, suggesting she was the one who tied everyone else’s hands before hanging herself,” said the officer.
The ritual involved the family members first tying the noose around their neck and then getting their hands bound.
“The moment they hanged themselves and began gasping for breathe, they would see God saving them,” said the officer, paraphrasing the note.
Other findings that added weight to the ritual theory were signs that a ‘hawan’ had been performed in the house hours before the deaths. “An iron vessel where the fire of the havan was started and other items used in the ritual were found in an adjacent room,” said the officer.
Prima facie it appears that the family had not cooked food the previous night. “The contents of the dustbin in the kitchen suggested that the family had ordered food from outside. It appears they were planning this for sometime,” said the officer.
Neighbours confirmed that the family was religious. “Every member of the family prayed thrice every day,” said Praveen Mittal, a close friend of the family.
All the notes of the ritual seem to be made by one person. Police said they will be sending the notes for forensic examination to identify the author and to ensure they were not placed to mislead the investigators.
Police said they have registered a murder case and are probing the case from all angles.