New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) Police on Sunday filed a case of “massacre” after finding 11 members of a family, some blindfolded, hanging from an iron grill ceiling in a north Delhi home in what was initially thought to be mass suicide.
After some hours of investigation, Additional Commissioner of Police Vinit Kumar said that the case had been handed over to the Crime Branch.
The gruesome sight of 10 members of the family hanging and a 77-year-old woman lying dead on the floor at Sant Nagar in Burari area sent shockwaves in the neighbourhood and beyond after their images went viral on the social media.
“During investigation, a case of murder has been registered based on the facts and circumstances,” Kumar said.
The deceased were identified as Narayani Devi (77), her two sons Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit (45), her daughter-in-laws Savita (48) and Teena (42), her daughter Pratibha (57) as well as Priyanka (33), Nitu (25), Monu (23), Dhruv (15) and Shivam (15). The family hailed from Rajasthan.
Bhavnesh, a grocery store owner, and Lalit, who ran a plywood store, were brothers.
“Their (grocery) shop would open by 6 a.m. daily. When it did not open till 7.30 today, a neighbour, who came to buy milk, checked and found the main door open, prompting him to call the police,” Joint Commissioner of Police Rajesh Khurana said.
What police found surprising was that the house was found to have been neither ransacked nor any precious item, including mobile phones, disturbed and missing. The gold jewellery on the bodies of females had not been taken, Kumar said.
A search of the house led to certain hand-written notes which the officer said pointed towards “observance of some definite spiritual and mystical practices by the whole family”.
“Incidentally, these notes have strong similarity with the manner in which the mouths, eyes and other parts of the deceased were tied and taped. The same is being investigated further to establish its links with the deaths,” the officer added.
A team of doctors has been set up to conduct autopsy. Police are awaiting the forensics and post-mortem report.
Officer Khurana said earlier that police were checking the CCTV footage.
A neighbour insisted right in the morning that it could not be mass suicide and that Lalit and Bhavnesh were very friendly persons.
“I spoke to Bhavnesh last night. He was very happy and there was no sign of any stress.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the area in the morning.
“It is a tragic incident. I have spoken to the police. Let’s wait for their investigation to be over,” Kejriwal told reporters.