Neighbours of the Bhatia family, whose 11 members were found dead under mysterious circumstances in north Delhi's Burari locality yesterday, are finding it hard to come to terms with the tragedy.
As the neighbours helped the relatives of the family by providing them food and shelter, they could not believe that the deaths were due to some occult practice and insisted that the victims were killed.
One of the neighbours, Amrik Singh, said the family had turned spiritual after Lalit Bhatia regained his voice suddenly after losing it in an accident around 10 years ago.
Navneet Batra, who was close to the family, said they had agreed to donate their eyes.
"The family was quite religious and always believed in helping others. By this way (eye donation), they would continue to live on among us," he said as he dismissed speculations that it was a case of suicide and alleged foul play in the deaths.
"I have known the family for 25 years. I last spoke to them on June 17, on the day of Priyanka's engagement. The family was looking forward to the wedding scheduled in October-November. The family was quite happy," Mr Batra said.
Another neighbour said they were informed about the deaths yesterday morning by Amrik's father, Gurcharan Singh.
"When the milk van arrived no one from the family responded. Gurcharan ji informed us that when he went upstairs to check why they were not responding, he found 10 of them hanging. He warned against going upstairs of the house. Their eyes were covered and hands tied," the woman, who has been a resident of the area for 20 years, said.
Amarjeet Kaur, who lives nearby, said that she had known the Bhatias for 16 years.
"Ever since they had opened their grocery shop, I used purchased my day-to-day essentials from them. I had bought milk from their shop at around 8.30 pm on Saturday. I couldn't sense anything unusual," she said.
The deceased were Narayan Devi, who was found dead on the floor, her daughter Pratibha (57), her two sons Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit Bhatia (45). Bhavnesh's wife Savita (48) and their three children - Meenu (23) and Nidhi (25), and Dhruv, aged 15.
Lalit Bhatia's wife Tina (42) and their 15-year-old son Shivam were also among those found dead. Pratibha's daughter Priyanka (33), who was engaged last month and would have married by the end of this year, was also found hanging. Locals said Meenu was preparing for entrance exams and Nidhi was pursuing her Masters.
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