Burari deaths: 11 bright people with one dark secret

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Burari deaths: 11 bright people with one dark secret

The Chundawats were like any other middle-class family, settled and focused on a better future, till a death in 2007 shook them up. While those who saw the family from outside felt they had found solace in spirituality, what happened inside the four walls of the Burari house may never be known as there is no one left to explain. The Hindu offers an insight into the personalities of the 11 members who died by speaking to their relatives, friends and neighbours

“In my career of 17 years so far, I have never seen a crime scene like this and I hope I do not ever have to,” said head constable Rajeev Tomar, the first policeman to enter the Burari house where 11 members of the Chundawat family were found dead on the morning of July 1.

He is Burari’s beat officer who reached the house at 7.18 a.m., a few minutes after a PCR call was made. He pushed a few people crowding the narrow lane and took the steps leading to the scene of crime.

“It was shocking. I stayed only for 10-15 seconds before rushing downstairs to call my seniors. At the time I did not see whose hands were tied and whose eyes were covered. I just saw a lot of bodies hanging, just like branches of a tree,” Mr. Tomar recalled.

On the first floor of the house, 10 bodies — Bhavnesh Singh (50), his brother Lalit Singh (45), their wives Savita (48) and Tina (42) respectively; their children Neetu (25), Monu alias Maneka (23), Dhruv alias Dushyant (15) and Shivam (15); their sister Pratibha alias Baby (48) and her daughter Priyanka (33) — were found hanging in a circular formation; Pratibha was hanging a little away from the group. The mother, 77-year-old Narayan Devi, was found dead on the floor in the adjacent room.

The deaths, initially suspected to be a case of murder because of tied limbs, blindfolds and gagged mouths, baffled the investigators after they discovered 11 diaries scribbled with notes detailing the situation in which the bodies were found.

Based on the diary entries, the police suspected it to be a case of a ritual gone wrong, leading to what could be called a “mass suicide”.

The police said the diaries were dictated by Lalit who believed the “spirit” of his father Bhopal Singh, who died in 2007, was communicating with him and instructing him to perform ‘badh tapasya [banyan tree worship]’ for the betterment of the family.

A question that has perplexed many is how did the family members, including 15 and 25-year-olds, agree to tie a noose around their neck and believe they would survive the alleged ritual?

Police complaint

Also, a police complaint has been filed by Congress activist Rajeev Sinha in Kolkata against the producers of the web series and actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui over the issue. The first season of the show, comprising eight episodes, was released on July 6 and is available in 190 countries in four languages.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Daily Report and is published from a The Hindu.)

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