11 family members found hanging in apartment along with notes suggesting ritualistic suicide
The police have registered a case of murder but it is believed that they are also investigating the possibility that this may be a mass suicide
Police in India are investigating the mysterious deaths of 11 members of a family whose bodies were all found in a house located to the north of the capital city of Delhi. Police officers arrived at the home in Burariat around 7:30 am on July 1 after they got a call from a neighbor stating that a few of the family members may have killed themselves. The officers found 11 bodies in the home that included those of two 12-year-old children and one 75-year-old woman. They did not find any signs of forced entry into the home. The authorities have said in a statement that they discovered handwritten notes in various parts of the home that leaned “toward observance of some definite spiritual or mystical practices by the whole family”.
The victims have been identified as Narayan Devi (75), her sons Bhupi (46), and Lalit (42), along with their wives and children, as well as Devi’s daughter, Partibha (60) and her daughter, Priyanka.
The bodies were found hanging from an iron mesh. They were also blindfolded and gagged. The body of the matriarch, Narayan Devi, was found in an adjacent room with strangulation marks on the neck.
The family is said to have lived in this particular home for almost three decades and they had just celebrated Priyanka's engagement only two weeks before the family was found dead. A big crowd had gathered outside the modest two-storey home in a narrow alley on July 2, reported The Guardian.
Dileep Singh Chauhan, the brother of Bhupi's wife Swita, was also present and told the Guardian he last spoke to her on Thursday. “She was perfectly happy. I did not feel any tension." He also said that the family were practicing Hindus and they had a small shrine inside the house. Swita was described as not especially pious. Chauhan said: “She was not very into religious things, not at all."
One neigbor, Draupdi, said that she saw the family celebrating recently because Priyanka got engaged and said that "everything was normal". She also said that she had gone to the family-run general store on June 30 evening only hours before they were said to have killed themselves and said that nothing seemed odd about them.
She said: “They were not a violent family; they never even screamed at their children if they were making noise, they were not that kind of people. People who say this was black magic are wrong, it is just rumours, there is nothing of that kind."
The police have, so far, registered a case of murder but it is believed that they are investigating the possibility that this may be a mass suicide. Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar told The Hindu Business Line: “We have found handwritten notes detailing how hands and legs are to be tied and the manner in which the bodies of the 10 persons were found reflected what was written in the notes. They are exhaustive notes and we are studying them."
Another officer said that the notes found at the home were found inside registers. He said: “They talk about how a person can overcome fear by covering eyes and mouth, how a person can attain salvation, and how the human body is temporary but the soul continues to live on."
An investigator then said: “The notes talk about if a group of 11 people follows these rituals, all problems would ease out and they would attain salvation. Some notes have dates on which they were written while others don’t. All the notes talk about reaching the end and gaining peace." Yet another officer said: “It is possible that the elderly woman was strangulated since she was not in a condition to climb a stool. We are probing whether the children were killed or were convinced to take the extreme step."
According to the authorities, a neighbor had called them and said that six to seven people had committed suicide in the home next door. When they arrived at the scene, however, they found 11 bodies.
One of the surviving daughters of Narayan Devi said that the possibility the family had taken their own lives to "achieve salvation" was complete nonsense. Sujata Nagpal, Devi's surviving daughter who lives in Panipat, told NDTV: "Someone killed them and all the reports on the spiritual angle are bogus. This family was a happy and peace-loving one, who never believed in 'babas'."
Devi's grandson, Ketan Nagpal, also said that the deaths were very suspicious and claimed that there was foul play involved saying "they were educated people and not superstitious". He dismissed the police theory of suicide and said: "They were not facing any financial issues and had not taken even a single loan. Everything was fine. Why would they kill themselves?"
On July 2 evening, the authorities said that there seemed to be a spiritual or mystical connection tied to the 11 deaths after a few handwritten notes were found in the home that suggested a ritualistic suicide. The blindfolding and gagging of the family seemed to be in tune with the instructions that were found in the notes. A manhunt is on for any godmen who may be associated with the family from before.
The police are stumped at the moment because of the fact that Priyanka had just recently been engaged to be married but her body was one of those found at the home. The 33-year-old had discussed her wedding with some cousins just the evening before she was found dead. She worked in an IT company that is based out of Noida. At around 11 pm the night she had taken her life or was murdered, she spoke about shopping for her upcoming wedding. Nagpal said: "She did not sound depressed or that she was about to kill herself."
Preliminary results of the postmortem done on the bodies have suggested that eight out of the 11 had died due to hanging and not from strangulation. The bodies also showed no signs of a struggle. The results for three of the bodies are yet to be revealed.