In yet another shocking revelation in the mysterious case of deaths of 11 members of Bhatia family in Delhi’s Burari, the Delhi Police now suspects that the family was suffering from ‘shared psychosis’.Also Read - My Focus Will Be On Basic Policing: Rakesh Asthana Takes Charges As Delhi Police Chief
PTI cited a senior police official, privy to the probe, saying that the family displayed symptoms of shared psychosis. “Shared psychosis means that delusional beliefs are transmitted from one person to another. In this case, it is suspected that Lalit Bhatia, 45, was the one who had the delusion of talking to his father even after his death. And his beliefs were endorsed by other family members too,” he said. Also Read - Former CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana Appointed Commissioner of Delhi Police
Meanwhile, victims’ neighbours said that the ill-fated family members were very helpful, though they mostly kept to themselves and never talked about their family matters. Also Read - Delhi Police Arrests Mumbai Firm's Managing Director in Rs 100 Crore Cheating Case
A neighbour, on the condition of anonymity, said the Bhatia family would never invite neighbours to their house.
“The family mostly kept to themselves. Although they were very friendly and cordial, they never discussed their private matters with us,” he said, adding that the neighbourhood of the ill-fated house was a close-knit unit, often sharing their worries.
Talking of the mysterious eleven pipes, jutting out of one of the side walls of the Bhatias’ house, the neighbours said they were installed three to four months ago.
“Initially, we also found it a little weird because there was no water connection there. But, we were told that they were for ventilation and release of the toxic fumes from chemicals used on plywood,” he recalled.
An elderly woman, who used to visit gurdwara with Bhatia family, said she had never been to their house.
“We used to buy household items from their grocery shop and would often visit the gurdwara together. But I was never invited upstairs by them. The children of the house were extremely obedient and I had never seen them fight among each other or with the other children in the locality. The behaviour of the boys was very unusual for the children of their age,” she said.
Another neighbour said while the children in the locality used to take tuition from Lalit’s niece Meenu and would go to the Bhatias’ house daily, the elders were never called upstairs.
Relatives Demand CBI Probe Into Deaths
The relatives of the family denounced the police and the media for allegedly labelling the deceased as some sort of religious maniacs and demanded a CBI probe into the case.
Ketan Nagpal, a maternal grandson of deceased septuagenarian Narayani Devi, said: “Every Hindu family worships and performs ‘havans’, ‘paath’ and ‘kirtans’ and so did our family. That is so common in every household and temples. But police has failed to crack the case despite the media reporting on the basis of police probe to paint us as a family of maniacs.”
“We are not happy with the Crime Branch investigation so far and demand a fair probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation. We cannot believe Lalit Bhatia indulged in the killing of his family under some mania,” Nagpal said.
A Crime Branch team meanwhile visited the family’s residence in north Delhi’s Sant Nagar and tried to recreate the sequence of crime.
The police also questioned some relatives of the deceased family members, who have since come to Delhi from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, to know whether any of the now-dead family members was in touch with any godman or occultist before their deaths.
“Five stools used by the family for hanging from iron grills have been seized,” a senior police officer said, adding that new sashes were used to make the nooses used for hanging.
“The stools were purchased five days ago. When a neighbour asked the family, (one of the deceased) Lalit Bhatia’s wife Tina said these were meant for use by children for studies,” he said.
“An entry in a diary seized from worship area in the house said that each participant will tie his or her hands during the ritual practice and later untie those of others,” the officer added.
“Police is also probing the case from an angle of mental disorder,” he said.
The officer claimed that Lalit Bhatia kept two registers and read a ‘Laal Kitaab’, hinting at mysticism. He had been writing them since 2015 as per the entries. He also mentioned in the notes about his father’s visits in his dreams and talks, the officer said.
The texts discussed spirituality, salvation, rituals, and a few dates of last month. Some notes were written on June 27 and 28 on the day of ‘Vat Purnima’.
“The notes indicated that Lalit Bhatia believed that his late father was still giving him advice. The notes pointed at one man’s hallucinations and delusions of an impending apocalypse,” he said.
The officer claimed that Lalit Bhatia, on the day of the crime, allegedly told his family that he had received a message from his late father that he would come to meet them all after a ritual prayer.
“Based on our investigations, it is very likely that Lalit Bhatia tied the hands of the male family members while his wife Tina tied the hands and legs of women family members. He later tied the hands and mouth of Tina and then hung himself during the ritual prayer,” he added.
“Experts will examine the handwriting of Lalit Bhatia to match with notes on seized diary and registers. The call records of the entire family are being examining to ascertain whether they were in contact with any occultist or godman, or any personal enmity with the family,” Joint Commissioner of Police Alok Kumar said.
As per the preliminary post-mortem reports, all family members died of hanging on Sunday.
The deceased were Narayani Devi, 77, her sons Bhavnesh Bhatia, 50, and Lalit Bhatia, 45, and daughters Pratibha, 57, and Priyanka, 33.
Bhavnesh’s wife Savita, 48, and their children Nitu, 25, Monu, 23, and Dhruv, 15, were also found dead, along with Lalit’s wife Tina, 42, and their son Shivam, 15.