New Delhi: The mystery behind the death of 11 members of Chundawat family in north Delhi’s Burari on July 1 only keeps on intensifying. The recovery of 11 diaries from the “house of horror” has helped investigators unravel answers that are both intriguing and startling.
The police will conduct a psychological autopsy of the 11 people found dead to solve the puzzle.
According to reports the psychological autopsy will be conducted after police get the final post-mortem report from doctors.
A psychological autopsy attempts to study a deceased person's mental state by analysing medical records, interviewing friends and family and conducting research into their state of mind prior to death.
Who were the 11 family members?
Natives of Rajasthan, the Chundawat family moved to Delhi over two decades ago. The residents of Burari home included 77-year-old Narayan Devi, her daughter Pratibha (57) and her two sons Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit (45), Bhavnesh's wife Savita (48) and their three children - Maneka (23), Neetu (25), and Dhirendra (15), Lalit's wife Tina (42), their 15-year-old son Dushyant and Pratibha's daughter Priyanka, who was engaged last month and was to marry by year-end.
Lalit owned a plywood business while Bhavnesh used to run a grocery shop. Both were running their businesses from the ground floor of their house. The only other working member of the family, Priyanka, was employed with a Noida firm.
What happed on July 1?
Suspicion rose when the grocery shop run by Bhavnesh didn’t open at the usual time. Neighbours entered the house to find all 11 members dead. 10 of the 11 members of the family were found hanging from an iron-mesh in the ceiling of the house, 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. Most had their limbs and mouths tied and were blindfolded.
Why was murder case registered in Burari death?
Narayan Devi was on the floor, and not hanging like the other 10 members of the family. There were ligature marks on her neck.
The door of the house was open. The feet of three hanging people appeared to be touching the floor.
Recoveries from “house of horror” in north Delhi’s Burari:
Police recovered 11 diaries in which religious rituals were written in Hindi. Recoveries showed that a ‘hawan’ was performed hours before the deaths and the family ordered 20 ‘rotis’ (chapattis) from outside.
Police said the notes recovered from the spot spoke about replicating 'badh tapasya', in which people get into a banyan tree-formation whose branches hang around. The expert will try and gain an insight into the psyche of the deceased. The notes say replicating 'badh tapasya' would make God happy.
Eight mobile phones belonging to the family were found taped and hidden in a drawer. The pet dog of the family was left tied on the terrace.
Autopsies and godmen
Eight of the 11 family members had died due to hanging. The others had died of ‘partial hanging’. No force was used against any of them.
According to the police suspect, the head of the family, 77-year-old, Narayan Devi, tied her neck to a door knob before falling off a bed. Initially, police suspected “external influence” and probed the possibility of occultists or godmen misguiding the family. There is no such evidence thus far.
Police said the handwritings suggested the notes were written by at least three different people, including Lalit and Priyanka. The first of the entries was made on July 8, 2007, and the last on June 30, 2018, the day before the family was found hanging in their house.
The latest notes revealed details about the ritual, the rules that were to be followed and what to expect. The previous notes spoke about the family’s problems and how Narayan Devi’s younger son, Lalit had become their “saviour”. The ritual was a ‘thanksgiving ceremony’ for Narayan’s husband, Bhopal Singh, who died ten years ago.
How and when it all started?
The Chundawat family were going through financial crises and infighting until 2007 when Narayan Devi’s husband Bhopal Singh died. Lalit took over as the family’s patriarch and convinced others that he was his father’s reincarnation and even began mimicking his father. Police suspect Lalit to be the brain behind the ritual.
Police say through the ritual, the family wanted to ‘meet’ their patriarch, the dead Bhopal Singh. They wanted to ‘thank’ him for the good fortunes of the family. Priyanka, a ‘Mangalik (born under a so-called ‘faulty’ astrological combination) got engaged, and the family’s businesses started flourishing.
What triggered the death?
Police cited the notes to claim the family expected to see the patriarch, Bhopal Singh, the moment they hanged as he would save them. The notes spoke of the ‘sky shaking and the earth trembling’ and someone bringing down the hanging people. The members were supposed to untie each other after that.
What did the CCTV footage reveal?
Footage released by police showed Savita and Neetu bringing stools and Dhruv and Shivam carrying wires to the house around 10 pm on June 30, 2018. Police said these items were used in the ritual. Bhavnesh was seen taking his dog out for a walk around 11 pm.
A delivery boy delivered 20 ‘rotis’. The footage showed no suspicious entry or exit.
11 bodies, 11 pipes:
The dead included seven female and four male members. A day after their deaths, seven bent and four straight pipes were found protruding out of the house. The iron gate too had 11 rods.
According to reports, the contractor renovating the house said the pipes were Lalit’s idea to ensure ventilation. Labourers fixed the pipe and no thought was given to the number 11.
The police are yet to find a satisfactory explanation for the open door. The most plausible reason is the family expected their ‘saviour’ to enter through it.
The viscera samples have been sent for tests to rule out the possibility of family being poisoned or sedated. They are also probing the possibility of someone abetting the deaths. The CCTV footage, initial autopsy reports, handwritten notes and statements of neighbours corroborating some contents of the notes are some of the ‘key’ evidence that the police have recovered so far.
Relatives deny murder:
Relatives of the family still believe the Chundawat’s was murdered. They refuse to believe all 11 could hang themselves. However, so far, they have been unable to come up with a motive for murder.
According to the notes recovered, the Chundawat family planned to replicate the ritual to help Tina’s sister who lives elsewhere and is facing personal problems. The sister was clueless about the plan.