The post-mortem of eight of the 11 people, who were found dead at their house in north Delhi's Burari locality, has revealed there were no signs of struggle and all of them died as a result of hanging, a senior police officer said today.
Eleven members of a family, including seven women and two children, were found dead under mysterious circumstances at their residence yesterday.
The post-mortem of eight persons, including the two children and their grandmother Narayan Devi, has been carried out and so far, police have not found any signs of strangulation or scuffle, according to the officer.
Ten of those dead were found hanging from an iron-mesh in the ceiling for ventilation, while the body of 77-year-old Narayan was lying on the floor in another room of the house.
Earlier, it was suspected that Narayan died due to strangulation. But doctors have said that she had died due to "partial hanging", the officer said, adding that a rope was found hanging near her body.
It is being probed who took out the rope from her neck, he said.
"From initial examination it seems that they all died due to ante-mortem hanging. The final report is awaited," the officer said.
Police suspect that the deaths were part of a suicide pact, carried out in accordance with a religious practice, as handwritten notes found on the spot indicated.
But relatives refused to believe the religious angle and suspected foul play in the incident, saying that "they were educated people and not superstitious".
Ketan Nagpal, whose maternal grandmother was one of the deceased, alleged that they were killed and dismissed the police theory that it could be a case of "suicide pact".
He said it was a prosperous family.
"They were not facing any financial issues and had not taken even a single loan. Everything was fine. Why would they kill themselves?" he said.
Nagpal contended that even if they had to commit suicide, they would not have covered their faces and taped their mouth.
The forensic team ruled out the involvement of any other person in their death as all the finger prints collected from the site of the incident matched with the family. The team did not find any prints of another person. The police sources said that based on forensic report murder can be ruled out, cops are likely to focus on the suicide angle in the case and try to track down the religious guru followed by the family, if any.
All 11 family members donated their eyes.
The Delhi Police Crime Branch has recovered certain handwritten notes from the house of the deceased family which point towards observance of some definite spiritual/mystical practices by the whole family.
These notes have strong similarity with the manner in which the mouths, eyes etc of the deceased were tied and taped. The same is being investigated further to establish its links with the deaths.
Religious sacrifice or foul play
Even as the police investigates the religious agle, the relatives of the family have dismissed it. A relative of the family suspected foul play in the incident, saying that "they were educated people and not superstitious". Ketan Nagpal, whose maternal grandmother was one of the deceased, alleged that they were killed and dismissed the police theory that it could be a case of "suicide pact".
He said it was a prosperous family. "They were not facing any financial issues and had not taken even a single loan. Everything was fine. Why would they kill themselves?" he said. Another relative said they had spoken to the family last night. They sounded "normal" and did not show any signs of depression, he added.
However, a neighbour of the family said that the family was very religious and conducted puja ceremony every night at 10 pm. Praveen Mittal told India TV that the family conducted puja by themselves and no outside person visited or conducted these prayer sessions. Mittal said that the family was quite jovial and social and no problems that anyone knew off.
Mittal said that Priyanka (30) who was about to be engaged considered him as a brother and had come to meet him at his home at around 8 pm on Saturday, hours before the death.
11 members of a family were found dead on Sunday morning under mysterious circumstances. The victims have been identified as Narayan Devi (77), her daughter Pratibha (57) and two sons--Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit Bhatia (45).
Bhavnesh's wife Savita (48) and their three children--Meenu (23), Neetu (25) and Dhruv (15) were also found dead, police said, adding Lalit's wife Tina (42) along with their 15-year-old son Shivam was also among the dead.
Pratibha's daughter, Priyanka (33), who had got engaged last month and was supposed to get married by the end of this year, was also found hanging.