Hours before 11 members of a family allegedly committed mass suicide, one of the family members, Bhavnesh Bhatia (50), had received two calls from his younger daughter Meenu (22), whom he called back. This, police say, was the last call that went out of the home, where the bodies were found hanging the next morning, with the phones kept in a corner. On Monday evening, senior officers, including the special CP (crime branch), revisited the home and collected some papers, which are likely to be sent to handwriting experts.
Police said the matriarch of the family, Narayani Devi (77), was found on the floor in a room, while her sons Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit (45); their wives Savita (48) and Teena (42); and their children Nidhi (25), Maneka (23), Dhruv (15) and Shivam (15) were found hanging from the railing. Devi’s daughter Pratibha (57), a widow, was found hanging from a window, while Pratibha’s daughter Priyanka (33) was found in the same room as the rest, said police. The house, police said, seemed “immaculately clean”.
Sources told The Indian Express that after scanning Lalit’s CDR, investigators found that he had last spoken on his phone on June 28. Police are probing if Lalit and his wife prompted the family to take the extreme step. “CDRs also suggested that food was ordered by Bhavnesh, and he ordered only 20 rotis, nothing else. The food delivery boy called him around 10.30 pm,” police sources said. Police said neighbours told them that Bhavnesh was last spotted walking the dog at 11.30 pm, around the same time he called his daughter. “Police did not find any suspicious calls from any of the seven phones recovered in silent mode,” a senior police officer said, adding that police are scanning the internet browsing history of the family. They are also checking their WhatsApp groups, police said.
Autopsy indicates hanging
Meanwhile, the specially constituted medical board of six doctors — hours after conducting the post-mortem of 11 family members — has informed the Delhi Police that there were no signs of a struggle, and all of them died due to ante-mortem hanging. JCP (crime branch) Alok Kumar confirmed that the doctors had informed police that all victims died as a result of hanging, but police are still waiting for the final autopsy report. The post-mortem examination began on Sunday evening and was carried out in two shifts — 6 pm to midnight and 9 am to 3 pm on Monday.
Police initially suspected that Devi died due to strangulation, but doctors confirmed that she died due to partial hanging, the officer said, adding that a leather belt was found hanging near her body. It is being probed who took out the belt from her neck, an official said. “From initial examination it seems that they all died due to ante-mortem hanging,” a senior police officer said.
Prima facie, the post-mortem said that the 11 deaths were the result of “ligature hanging”, suggesting suicide. “The initial autopsy report has also revealed that five members of the family had not eaten any food,” an official said. Police suspect the deaths were part of a suicide pact, as indicated by handwritten notes found at the spot. Some of the notes stated that one will not die but attain something great.
Police also found 11 pipes protruding from one of the walls of the house. “But there was no water outlet on that side of the house.
Neighbours pointed out that four of the pipes are straight, seven are bent — just like four dead men and seven dead women. We are probing if this has any significance,” an officer said, adding that police are also looking into whether the family had any links to a godman.