The Burari deaths refers to the deaths of eleven family members of the Chundawat family from Burari, India, in 2018. Ten family members were found hanged, while the oldest family member, the grandmother, was strangled. The bodies were found on 1 July 2018; in the early morning after the death. The police have ruled the deaths as mass suicide, with an angle of shared psychosis being investigated.
The Chundawat family (also known as Bhatia family by neighbours) had been living in the double-story house in Burari's Sant Nagar neighbourhood for around twenty years, after moving from their native town in Rajasthan. The family ran a grocery shop and plywood business in the area. The family included Narayani Devi, 77; sons Bhavnesh, 50, and Lalit, 45; daughters-in-law Savita, 48, and Teena, 42; daughter Pratibha Bhatia (née Chundawat), 57; and grandchildren Priyanka (daughter of Pratibha), 33, Nitu (elder daughter of Bhavnesh), 25, Monu (younger daughter of Bhavnesh), 23, Dhruv (youngest son of Bhavnesh), 15, and Shivam (only child of Lalit), 15. Bavnesh's elder son had left home 3 years prior and so was spared.
In 2007, Lalit Chundawat's father Bhopal Singh died of natural causes. After the death of his father, Lalit became very introverted, and soon he started praying in front of trees, and offering food to animals. One day, he told his family that he was possessed by his father’s soul, who advised him the ways to attain a good life. Since 2013 he had been maintaining a diary on his father’s "instructions".
Discovery of bodies
On the morning of 1 July around 7:15, neighbour Gurcharan Singh, who used to go on morning walks with one of the deceased, went to the Chundawat residence after noticing Lalit Chundawat's absence for the morning walk, as well as the fact that the shops were still not opened (the shops usually opened at 6am). Gurcharan Singh found the door of the house open and the ten people, including Lalit Chundawat, hanging. He raised an alert by calling other neighbours, and police received the call around 7:30.
Ten of the eleven people - two men, six women and two teens - were found hanging in the courtyard of the house. They were blindfolded and their mouths were taped. Some of the bodies had their hands and feet tied as well. Another woman, 77-year-old Narayani Devi was found dead in another room. It appeared that she had been strangled.
The members were found hanging from a mesh in their ceiling in the hallway, all close together. Their faces were wrapped almost entirely, ears plugged with cotton, mouths taped and hands tied behind the back. There were five stools, probably shared by the 10 members. Their faces covered with cloth pieces cut from a single bed-sheet.
Police said the circumstances surrounding the deaths point to mass suicide for occult reasons or murder for occult reasons. Police are also investigating with the possibility of murder with a motive other than occult. In the early stages of investigation, police registered a murder case, investigating it from every angle.
Police found eleven diaries in the house, all of them maintained for the period of eleven years. Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar stated: "We have found handwritten notes detailing how hands and legs are to be tied and are quite similar to the manner in which the bodies of 10 persons were found. They are exhaustive notes and we are studying them." Details/directions provided in the diaries match how the bodies were found with their faces covered, mouths taped, and cotton balls in ears. The diary also mentions: "everyone will tie their own hands and when the kriya (ritual) is done then everyone will help each other untie their hands." Signifying the family was not expecting to die.
Psychologists have commented that these deaths are a result of ‘shared psychotic disorder’ in which members of a group blindly trust one among them and follow instructions without questioning. Psychologists feel that Lalit suffered from a ‘delusional disorder’.
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