When 11 members of a family in Delhi's Burari were found dead on Sunday, July 1, it was thought to be another case of mass suicide. However, things are getting more twisted and confusing as additional details continue to trickle in.
It is now being said that the Bhatia family could have been suffering from "shared psychosis," due to which they believed that the late father of Lalit Bhatia, one of the deceased, was speaking to them and wanted them to perform the ritual.
One of the notes recovered from the house clearly stated that Gopal Das Bhatia would come and save the family at the last moment. The police have also said that the family seemed to have tried to arrange "a meeting" with Gopal.
"Antim samay mein..akhri ichha ki purti ke waqt, asmaan hilega...dharti kaapegi...uss waqt mantro ka jaap badha dena..main aakr, tumko aur auro ko utaar lunga (In the end time, when it is time to fulfill the last wish, the skies will shake, the earth will tremble, increase the frequency of mantra, I will come and save you and the others)," a note read.
"Lalit ki chinta mat karo tumlog.. main jab aata hun to ye thoda pareshan ho jata hai...(don't worry about Lalit.. He gets a little hassled when I come)," another added.
What is Shared Psychosis?
Shared psychosis, also called the shared psychotic disorder, is said to be a rare mental illness, in which delusional beliefs and hallicinations are often passed on from one person to another.
The psychiatric syndrome can be passed between two or more people. The disorder is mostly passed on between people who live together or close by and are alienated from others.
In the Burari case, it is believed that Lalit was the dominant person and the disorder was being passed on from him to the 10 other family members.
Unusual behaviour is said to be one of the symptoms of shared pyschosis and people who knew the family have said that the members, especially the children of the house, did not behave like other children of their age.
"We used to buy household items from their grocery shop and would often visit the gurdwara together. But I was never invited upstairs by them. The children of the house were extremely obedient and I had never seen them fight among each other or with the other children in the locality. The behaviour of the boys was very unusual for the children of their age," the Press Trust of India quoted an elderly woman as saying.
The police have now also revealed that 10 family members who killed themselves strangely shared five stools. It also appears that the family genuinely believed that they would survive as a note states that they should help each other once the ritual is completed.
The Delhi police are now also investigating the presence of a 12th person, but it isn't known who this could be. Speaking of why the main door could have been left open, the police said that the family may have believed that some superpower would come and save them.
"We are working on two theories. Either the family believed that a superpower would enter through the gate and save them the moment they hanged (themselves), or a 12th person was present in the house at the time of the deaths," Hindustan Times quoted a police official as saying.