11 of family found dead in Delhi: Neighbours recall deceased as helpful

Neighbours recalled the family, 11 members of which were found dead under mysterious circumstances in north Delhi's Burari this morning, as one that always helped others.

Amrik Singh, one of the neighbours, said the grocery store owned by the family used to open by 6 am every day and close only after those living in the lane had gone off to sleep.

Today, when the shop did not open by 7 am, everyone was surprised.

"The milk van had arrived outside the shop. A couple of neighbours had gathered because the van driver was continuously honking. I opened the main gate and went upstairs. What I saw there left me shocked," Amrik's father Gurcharan Singh, one of the first persons to see the bodies, said.

Devesh, another neighbour, said, "Sometimes, they would even open their shop at 5.30 am if someone requested for some small item. The nearby chaiwala was usually the first customer as he would come to the shop to buy milk."

The locals also described the Bhatias as the "largest family" living in the lane.

"They were living here for over 22 years. Never once did we see them quarrelling with anyone or troubling the neighbours," said another resident.

Jatin (15), who was friends with the two boys among the deceased, said he had seen them play cricket last night.

"They looked happy and were playing around 11 pm. Bhavnesh uncle was watching them play from his shop. We played cricket with them during holidays and it is hard to believe that they are no more," he said.

The police found some handwritten notes in the house, which, they said suggested that the family might have into some sort of religious practices, but the contents of the notes were not immediately clear.

The police said they were informed by a neighbour that six-seven persons had committed suicide but upon reaching the spot, they found 11 people had died.

The deceased were identified as Narayan Devi (77), who was found dead on the floor, her daughter Pratibha (57), two sons Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit Bhatia (45).

Bhavnesh's wife Savita (48) and their three children -- Meenu (23) and Nidhi (25), and Dhruv (15) -- were also found dead, along with Lalit's wife Tina (42) and their 15-year-old son Shivam.

Pratibha's daughter Priyanka (33), who got engaged last month and was supposed to get married in November, was also found hanging.

The neighbours also recalled attending Priyanka's engagement ceremony and how excited the family was about the wedding.

"Priyanka was doing well in her career. On June 17, she got engaged and we had attended the function. Ours is a close-knit neighbourhood and we share our joys and sorrows with each other," Devesh said.


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