Burari: Family rehearsed "ritual" for days, didn't expect to die
Police probing the mysterious Burari deaths have revealed that the apparent mass suicides were the culmination of a week-long "thanksgiving" ritual by the family, who were certain they would survive it. CCTV footage shows members bringing home necessary items for the procedure throughout the previous week; the two 15-year-old kids carried stools and wires. The ritual was apparently to celebrate granddaughter Priyanka's engagement.
Narayan Devi (77), sons Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit (45), their wives Savita (48) and Tina (42), daughter Pratibha (57), and five grandchildren- Priyanka (33), Neetu (25), Monu (23), Dhruv and Shivam (15)- were found dead in their Delhi residence on Sunday. All but Narayan were found hanging. They were blindfolded, gagged and had their hands tied. Police suspect Narayan was hanged from a doorknob.
The family was deeply religious since the father died in 2007, neighbors said. Soon after, Lalit started claiming he was possessed by his father, and the family believed him, calling him "daddy." Their conviction grew as their fortunes gradually changed: Lalit's financial investment ideas brought rewards, their business flourished, and recently, Priyanka got engaged. Meanwhile, Lalit continued scribbling in diaries detailing rituals, "instructions from father" and more.
After Priyanka's engagement, Lalit proposed a "thanksgiving" ritual, which began on June 23. A week of "rehearsals" and preparations later, the "final act" took place on Saturday. Footage shows family members bringing in items used in rituals throughout the week. Saturday, they brought stools and wires. Notes reveal they were expecting to be saved, presumably by Lalit's father. They had planned a similar "ritual" with their daughter Mamta too.
During probe, police found a striking repetition of the number '11': there were 11 pipes jutting out of a wall, seven straight, four facing downwards (seven men, four women); 11 windows; and 11 iron bars in the entrance door. However, the contractor called it a coincidence. "They asked us to provide ventilation. We made holes on the wall...we never counted the number of pipes."
Police earlier suspected the role of godmen who might have influenced the family, but are now examining if they were suffering from shared psychosis, for which they'll bring in psychology and paranormal experts. Police have also sent notices to eight people who were in regular touch with Lalit to join the probe, to know more about him. Viscera reports are expected within 10-15 days.