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Five Deadly Religious Cults That Shook The World Before the Burari Deaths in Delhi

While the Burari case may appear as horrific and surreal to many, it by no means is first of its kind. In fact, religious cults have always been notorious around the world for driving unlikely groups of people to suicide.

Rakhi Bose | News18.com

Updated:July 2, 2018, 7:05 PM IST
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Five Deadly Religious Cults That Shook The World Before the Burari Deaths in Delhi
While the Burari case may appear as horrific and surreal to many, it by no means is first of its kind. In fact, religious cults have always been notorious around the world for driving unlikely groups of people to suicide.
There were ten hanging dead bodies-- an elderly woman lying dead, face down, throat slit and a notebook full of spiritual directives on how to carry out the mass murder. North Delhi’s Sant Nagar in Burari woke up to what is now being touted as the biggest murder mystery in the capital in recent years.

A family of eleven was found dead inside their home. Inside the house, investigators found hand-written notes detailing all the murders as part of a ritualistic ceremony allegedly to ‘attain salvation’.

As grizzly details of the Burari suicide/murder case made their way into newspapers, it became evident that the killings were part of a ritualistic, religious cult.

While the case may appear intriguingly unparalleled to many, it by no means is first of its kind. In fact, religious cults have always been notorious around the world for driving unlikely groups of people to suicide.

Don’t believe it? Here are five of the deadliest religious cults around the world that propagated collective deaths.


Jonestown massacre

Jonestown AFP

Any list of suicidal cults would be incomplete without the Jonestown massacre that took place in 1978 in the town by the same name in US’s Guyana. 909 people, led by the “charismatic leader” Jim Jones, ‘voluntarily’ drank a cyanide-spiked liquid that tasted like ‘Kool-Aid’, a syrupy beverage, popular with Americans. Out of those killed, 200 had been children who were killed first by their parents.

The cult, developed as a subset of Christianity in the 1950s, preached against racism and moved to Jonestown in 1971 to live a socialist utopia. However, journalists and investigators soon started reporting instances of mistreatment of members, especially children in the cult. Jim Jones also had five Congressmen who had visited the Jonestown settlement for an inspection visit killed while they were leaving Guyana.

UFO cult suicides

Marshall Applewhite

Another cult group in US’s California, the Heaven’s Gate cult took the lives of 21 women and 18 men in 1997. Based out of San Diego, Heaven’s Gate was a millenarian UFO cult led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles.
On March 26, investigators found bodies of 39 members, including Applewhite, inside a rented 9,200 acres house within a gated community in San Diego. The bodies were laid out in intricate patterns emulating popular sci-fi shows ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Doomsday Preppers’. The ceremonial suicide was allegedly a step for the members to transform to celestial spirits before they were carried off in a spaceship that was allegedly trailing Comet Hale-Bopp.

The cult has been described by many as an early version of a ‘çybersect’ as many of the members including the ones who killed themselves relied heavily on computer based communication. It has also been referred to as a ‘UFO religion’ due to its leader Applewhite’s obsession with the unidentified flying objects as well as several detailed beleifs surrounding UFOS and alien life within the group.

Knights Templar cult killings

order-of-the-solar-temple-cult-8

Order of the Solar Temple, referred to popularly as OTS (for the French Order du Temple Solaire) or the Solar Temple cult, was a secret society founded in Geneva in 1984 by Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret. It became internationally notorious after it led to the deaths of almost 74 people in Canada, France and Switzerland in 1994-95. In October 1994, 53 members along with both the founders of the cult were found dead in Switzerland and Canada.

The common element in all the all the mass deaths was fire. While the inner circle of members appeared to have taken poison, the others were shot in the head. In 1995, 16 bodies were found in the French Alps, ritualistically burned. The cult was allegedly based on the legend of the Knights Templar, an ancient order of warriors who together guarded Christianity’s secrets. In fact the leader, Jouret, often claimed to have been a Knight himself in his past life.

The Uganda massacre

uganda church

In what is one of the most infamous cases of mass deaths caused by religious cults, bodies of over 900 members of The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God were found in Uganda in March 2000. The order was a breakaway faction of the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda. The cult preached doomsday prophesies and claimed that the world would come to an end through an apocalypse in 2000. When the cult’s doomsday prophesy on Dec 31 1999 failed, the cult began to show signs of strain and immediately announced March 17 as the next doomsday. That was the day of the mass deaths which investigators now claim were not all suicides. Joseph Kwiwetere, one of the key leaders of the cult and believed dead during the killings, was later declared a suspect in the murders and is still at large.

The Waco siege

waco-siege rt

Another disputed case of mass suicide or murder is the deaths of 76 members of The Branch Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists in Waco, Texas. A breakaway faction of the Seventh-Day Adventists led by David Moresh, the Branch rose to prominence after several of its ‘prophets’ predicted the second coming of Jesus Christ on a hilltop in Texas. In 1993, security forces raided the Branch’s Texas headquarters upon suspicions of the cult’s involvement in arms hoarding. Upon raiding, the forces were met with gunfire. In the end of what is known in pop culture as the Waco siege, 76 including Moresh were found dead. Speculation continues as to the whether the deaths were suicide or murder, whether the fire was caused by cult members or by others including the FBI.

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