The Strange Case Of The Burari Deaths, In Which A Family Took Their Own Lives For Mysterious Reasons

A seemingly normal New Delhi family of 11 was found dead in their home in July 2018, and though years have passed, the so-called “Burari Deaths” continue to haunt the public today due to their bizarre, disturbing nature. The idea of one person killing 10 of their family members, then taking their own life is just as unfathomable as a family suicide pact in which teenagers as young as 15 voluntarily ended their own lives.

The Burari Deaths baffled police for three years, caused psychologists to ponder rare psychological disorders, and even spawned a Netflix documentary that agonized an exhausted and frightened film crew. It remains an intriguing case today due to the event's strange - and, as some believe, supernatural - underpinnings.

  • In July 2018, A Neighbor Of The Bhatia (AKA Chundawat) Family Noticed Their Unusual Public Absence

    In July 2018, A Neighbor Of The Bhatia (AKA Chundawat) Family Noticed Their Unusual Public Absence
    Photo: House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths / Netflix

    The Chundawat family, frequently called the Bhatia family by neighbors, ran a grocery store as well as a plywood business next to their family home in Burari, New Delhi, India. They usually opened their shops at 6 am, but on July 2, 2018, neighbors noticed that their shutters were still closed at 7:30 am.

    There was no note nor anything else signifying that the family was taking the day off. One neighbor found this peculiar and decided to check on the family, whose door was left ajar. What they saw inside was gruesome and unexpected: Multiple dead bodies hanging from a grate in the ceiling.

  • The Family Of 11 Was Eventually Discovered Hanging In Their New Delhi Home

    Police were immediately notified about the neighbor's discovery, and while they were en route, a crowd began gathering in the narrow alleyways around the Bhatia family home. Mr. Tomar, the first police officer on the scene, had to push through onlookers to reach the house's entrance. He later recalled the experience of first walking onto the crime scene:

    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.

    All 11 members of the family were found dead, 10 of them hanged, and one elderly woman laying dead on the floor in the next room. The family members' ages ranged from 15 to 77 years old.

  • Police First Handled It As A Murder Case But Suspected Something Much Darker Was At Play

    The bodies were found with their mouths taped shut and their eyes blindfolded. Additionally, a few of the bodies were discovered with their hands and feet tied together. The police initially entertained the possibility that one family member killed the rest before taking their own life. However, the fact that the family dog was left alive and seemed calm when the police arrived aroused more suspicion that foul play was involved. 

    The notion of someone within the family killing the other 10 members was hard to imagine, but so was the possibility of each family member willingly ending their own life.

    The case was further complicated by the fact that the family's 77-year-old matriarch was dead in another room. Police later found out that she had trouble walking and getting around. She would have had no way to climb a stool to hang herself.

  • Then Investigators Discovered A Series Of Diaries In The House, Which Spanned 11 Years Of Bizarre Family History

    Then Investigators Discovered A Series Of Diaries In The House, Which Spanned 11 Years Of Bizarre Family History
    Photo: ABP News / YouTube

    The case grew even more complex after police discovered a backpack full of diaries and notes that spanned over a decade. Lalit Bhatia (45) wrote a daily diary entry for many years, keeping track of what each member of the family was doing and writing detailed instructions on how they should behave. 

    Police sent the diary to handwriting experts to determine whether or not the handwriting matched that of the notes. These experts determined that both the diary and the notes did contain the same handwriting, that of Lalit Bhatia. 

    Many of the notes and diary entries concerned spiritual beliefs and practices that many consider bizarre; they mention things like attaining salvation and having a living spirit residing in his body.

  • The Diaries Also Contained A Detailed Account Of Exactly How The Family Would Perish

    Lalit Bhatia and his wife seemed to exercise a significant amount of control over their family. Many of the notes found in the backpack discuss how and when the family would make a collective suicide attempt. Lalit believed that if all 11 members of the family took their lives at the same time, they would attain salvation.

    Lalit's notes suggest that he truly believed they would survive the suicide pact since one note mentions replicating the ritual with some of his in-laws, who were financially struggling.

    Lalit also mentioned optimal conditions for the timing of the ritual, such as a specific day of the week. Other notes mention using blindfolds and tape during the hangings to block off their senses.

  • A Son Of The Family Seemingly Believed He Could Communicate With The Bhatias’ Late Patriarch

    Lalit Bhatia faced many unfortunate incidents throughout his life: He was unable to finish his exams in his junior year due to an accident, and later, he had another accident in which two pieces of plywood fell on his head, leaving him with a speech impediment. The largest blow came in 2008 when his father passed away.

    Lalit’s behavior completely changed after his father's death. He was more reticent, but he also took on strange behaviors like praying in front of trees and feeding animals. He believed his father’s spirit entered his body and was giving him guidance. In fact, many of Lalit’s diary entries were written as commands from his deceased father.