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Suspected suicide of 9 members of family in Maharashtra brings back horrors of Delhis Burari deaths

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The suspected suicide of nine members of a family in Maharashtras Sangli on Monday brought back the horrors of Delhis Burari mass suicide involving 11 members of the Chundwat family that also became a subject of a Netflix docuseries.

A forensic expert, who had visited the spot in Burari, recalled that it was horrifying to see so many bodies hanging together with their hands and legs tied. The docuseries titled House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths, aimed at piecing together various developments in the case, was released last year on Netflix. Nine members of a family of two brothers were found dead in Sangli, police said and maintained that they suspect it to be a case of suicide pact, while preliminary probe suggests the duo had heavily borrowed money from various people.

The bodies were found in two different houses of the brothers, located 1.5 km apart, in Mhaisal village in the western Maharashtra district, over 350km from the state capital Mumbai. On July 1, 2018, everyone woke up to the horrific case in which bodies of 11 members of a family were found hanging with their eyes blindfolded, hands and legs tied, inside their house in Burari. Initially, the police registered a murder case but subsequent investigations and recovery of registers that detailed a set of rituals to be followed, gave the case a new dimension.

The police had to delve into occult, psychology, superstition and latest investigative techniques to crack one of the most sensational cases in the capital.

At the centre of all this was a family that the neighbours remembered as “sweet, helpful and religious”, one that was looking forward to the marriage of one of the daughters, and had even started preparations for the big day.

With their faces covered in pieces of white cloth and mouths taped and hands and legs tied, the video showing 10 members hanging, was anything but gory. The family matriarch, Narayan Devi, was found lying in another room with ligature marks on her neck.

Recalling the case, a forensic expert at the Forensic Science Laboratory in Rohini here said he was initially left horrified after seeing the bodies.

“We are accustomed to seeing bodies but this was different. Ten members of the family were found hanging while the body of the eldest member of the family was found in another room. One of the blindfolds of one of the women who was hanging had come off slightly,” he recalled.

The expert said forensics had played a vital role in the case, while recalling that their team had found registers and mobile phones of the family members stowed away together in the temple. Some registers were also found in some drawers. “We carried out handwriting analysis by matching the notings on the register with the handwriting of the deceased members. Usually, we use bank documents for verifying the handwritings,” he said. Photographs and videos were difficult to take as the 10 bodies were hanging quite close and those who were involved in gathering video evidences were bumping into the bodies while recording them, he recalled.

The people found dead in the house were Chundawats 77-year-old mother Narayan Devi, her sons Bhavnesh Bhatia (50) and Lalit Bhatia (45), their wives Savita (48) and Tina (42) respectively, a daughter Pratibha (57) and five grandchildren, Priyanka (33), Neetu (25), Monu (23), and Dhruv and Shivam (both 15).

The registers had notes mentioning salvation, badh tapasya and shunya and had details about the rituals to be followed.

“There were notes on badh tapasya, in which people get into a banyan tree-formation whose branches hang around. The notes stated that doing this would make God happy,” according to an official.

Following the post-portem, which ruled out any foul play, the police employed psychological autosy to unravel the mystery behind the deaths. According to the psychological autopsy report of the deceased, the family members did not wish to commit suicide but the deaths happened due to an “accident that occurred during a ritual”. The police, in their investigation, had said Lalit and his family believed he had visitations from his father, who had passed away in 2007, and that the ritual was being carried out at the late fathers behest.

Subsequently, the police filed a closure report in the case last year.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)

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