New Delhi: The 11 members of a Burari family, who were found hanging at their residence on July 1, voluntarily followed the instructions of one of the deceased during the mass ritual, latest CCTV footage has revealed.
The footage from a camera with a view of the entrance to the Bhatias' house showed a woman and two children bringing in the stools and wires used in the mass hangings. The youngest members — 12-year-old Dhruv and 15-year-old Shivam — reportedly went to a furniture store downstairs and bought the wires, while the elder daughter-in-law and her daughter brought the stools, the footage showed.
Police are now probing from where the stools were brought and what reason the family gave to the person for taking the stools.
Handwritten notes talking about following a set of rituals to appease God and attain salvation were found by the police from the spot, which have compounded the mystery of the 11 deaths.
Entries made by the matriarch's younger son, 45-year-old Lalit, indicate that he hallucinated about his dead father advising him about salvation. Another person who allegedly wrote in the diaries was Lalit’s 30-year-old niece Priyanka Bhatia, who got engaged on June 17.
The notes also revealed that the family did not expect to die in the ritual and thought the spirit of Lalit’s father would save them.
A police officer said the family had attributed a run of good fortune to Lalit’s instructions and thus may not have questioned the ritual. Baffled investigators say the family was probably suffering from a “shared psychotic disorder”.
However, the next of kin of the deceased have rubbished the theories, complaining that they were being “painted by the media as a family of maniacs”.
Teachers and authorities of the school where Dhruv and Shivam studied also said they were bright students who had keen interest in music. “They were studying here right since their childhood and were doing well in their studies. They were also into co-curricular activities. Their elder sister Maneka also passed out from our institution and was a school topper. None of the teachers ever had any complaints about their behaviour,” a school representative said.
Ten of the 11 members of the Bhatia family were found hanging from an iron-mesh in the ceiling on July 1, 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.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police Crime Branch sent notices to eight persons to join the probe into the deaths.
"As per Lalit's Call Detail Records, we have tracked and identified these eight persons who were in regular touch with him on phone. We have sent them notices to join the probe" a senior police officer said.
"We want to know the physiological aspect of Lalit Bhatia and his nature. We want to know what sort of talks he had with them — whether he talked of advice given to him by his late father, which he penned down on registers seized from the house," the officer added.
(With inputs from PTI)