A day after 11 members of a family were found dead under mysterious circumstances inside their home in north Delhi, police are probing the “mental state” of one of them who had started performing “rituals” after the death of his father 10 years ago. Lalit Bhatia, 45, used to conduct these “rituals” in the name of his father, and told other members of the family that his father’s soul had entered his body to give advice on various issues, police sources told The Indian Express.
Lalit’s father Bhopal Singh died of natural causes in 2008, police said. Bhopal Singh was an ex-serviceman who took voluntary retirement following an injury to his leg after he fell from a horse, sources close to the family said. Lalit was among the 10 found hanging, with their eyes covered with pieces of cloth cut from the same bedsheet and their mouths tied shut, while the body of Narayani was found on the floor in another room of the house.
According to police, Lalit would maintain a daily diary in which he would record the activities of each person in the house. Police sources said this diary has been sent to handwriting experts to compare with detailed notes on two registers found in the house on how to attain moksha (salvation).
Sources said Lalit became “very introverted… speaking less frequently to others and staying to himself” after the death of his father. “Soon, he started offering prayers in front of trees, and feeding animals. One day, he told his family members that his father’s soul had entered his body and was advising him on steps to follow for a good life. Since 2013, he had been maintaining a dairy on his father’s ‘instructions’. The family was religious and believed him,” sources said.
The family, which belonged to the Rajput community and migrated from Rajasthan two decades ago, had a plywood business and also ran a grocery store in the area. A family member claimed that a few years ago, Lalit’s speech was partially impaired when two planks of plywood fell on his head in his shop. “He believed that he recovered because of the rituals he followed,” said the relative.
“On the day of the incident, some rituals appear to have been conducted. One aspect that has been noticed is that the pattern of the bodies hanging close together resemble the roots of a Banyan tree,” sources said. In the register, there is an entry on worshipping the banyan tree. According to police sources, the family had worshipped a banyan tree on the night of June 27 because it was the eve of Vat Purnima.