At least one member of Burari family tried to save himself at last minute, say police


NATIONAL | July 9, 2018:

Police suspect that at least one member of the Burari family, who were found hanging from an iron grille inside their north Delhi home on July 1, had made a last-ditch unsuccessful attempt to escape death.

Investigators have so far questioned at least 130 people. including relatives, neighbours, family and business friends as Delhi Police's crime branch tries to unravel the mystery behind the 11 deaths and ascertain the possibility of "outsider influence".

A police officer said 50-year-old Bhavnesh Bhatia was found hanging along with eight other members of his family from an iron grille in the roof of the house meant for ventilation. One of Bhavnesh's hand was in the air, near his throat, when police found the bodies.

"Forensic experts are of the opinion that Bhavnesh unsuccessfully tried to free himself from the noose. His hands were also found to be loosely tied, making experts believe that he had attempted to untie himself," said the officer.

The new fact in the probe emerged a week after 11 occupants of the north Delhi house were found dead in what police so far believe is a case of a 'religious ritual' gone wrong.

The dead includes 77-year-old Narayan Devi, her two sons Bhavnesh Bhatia (50) and Lalit Bhatia (45), their wives Savita (48) and Tina (42) respectively, Narayan's daughter Pratibha (57) and five grandchildren, Priyanka (33), Neetu (25), Monu (23), Dhruv (15) and Shivam (15).

All the bodies were found blindfolded with the mouths covered with surgical tapes and white cloth. The limbs of eight of the bodies were tied. Police said the autopsy reports of Narayan, Bhavnesh and Pratibha had revealed that they had died of "partial hanging". Except Narayan, who was found dead on the floor of a room, all the others were found hanging when police arrived.

Another police officer, privy to the investigation, said that unlike the other family members, the tape and cloth on Bhavnesh's mouth were partially removed, suggesting he had tried to do away with them in a bid to "raise an alarm". "His legs were also touching the floor. Forensic experts believe that the noose around his neck tightened as he struggled to stand on his feet to avoid death by hanging. Even the initial autopsy report says that Bhavnesh died of partial hanging," said the other officer.

On July 6, the investigating team, along with forensic experts, revisited the Burari home and carried out an extensive inspection of the entire house including the hallway, where 10 members of the family were found hanging.

Police took measurements of the house, its walls, balconies and terrace as part of their investigations to know if an outsider could have entered. They also measured the height between the iron frame and the floor in the hallway and matched it with the heights of the nine family members, who were hanging from the frame.

The crime scene inspection is part of the "draft mapping" investigation for which investigators are trained. As per the draft mapping, investigators minutely examine the position of the hanging bodies, items used in hanging, height of the victims and the items they used to hang themselves, entry points of the house, height and width of the balcony, where the phones were kept and in which condition, wires and clothes used in the hanging, among others, said a senior police officer.

Meanwhile, further analysis of the recovered notes has revealed that the Bhatia family members were convinced that Lalit was possessed by his father Bhopal Singh's soul, said police. The notes also suggest that the family had planned a financial investment after successfully completing the 'religious rituals'. Police sources said the notes written in 2011 has mention of souls of four dead people who needed 'salvation'.

Source: The Hindustan Times

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