Investigating the theory that the 11 of a Delhi family found dead in their home on Sunday planned and executed a ritualistic mass hanging, the police have started a “psychological autopsy” of the family.
The police are questioning 13 people who stayed with the Chundawat family for the June 17 engagement of Priyanka Bhatia, one of the 11 people found hanging from a grill in the ceiling, their faces wrapped, mouths duct-taped and hands tied behind their back.
The guests left on June 23, a week before the family hangings.
A “psychological autopsy” means the police will talk to relatives, friends and those who knew the family closely to map their psyche and assess the mental health of the Chundawats.
The police are reportedly taking help from experts at VIMHANS or the Vidya Sagar Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences.
A team of the Delhi police crime branch is in Rajasthan’s Udaipur to speak to the family of the wife of Lalit Chundawat, the man seen to have planned the mass suicide as a “thanksgiving ritual” for 33-year-old Priyanka’s engagement.
The family didn’t intend to die but emerge stronger from the ritual, indicates the evidence.
The Chundawat family believed everything Lalit had been saying over the years.
Lalit Chundawat, 45, allegedly suffered from delusions and hallucinated about his dead father advising him on spiritual salvation and various rituals for wealth and happiness. He is believed to have kept notes in 11 diaries over 11 years, some written by him, others by Priyanka.
Sources say the 13 relatives are being questioned on the daily routine of the Chundawas and whether they found anything strange in the behavior of the family, especially Lalit.
After these relatives left, Lalit Chundawat started preparing for a “special ritual” in the house.
The notes reveal that Lalit wanted to replicate a “badh (banyan) tapasya”, in which the family was supposed to arrange itself to hang like the branches of a banyan tree to “make the gods happy”.
On Sunday July 1, 10 of the family were hanging and the 11th, the 77-year-old matriarch Narayani Devi, was on the floor in another room, also dead from hanging. The dead were Narayani Devi’s sons Lalit, Bhuvanesh, their families – including two 15-year-old boys – Narayani Devi’s daughter Pratibha, whose daughter was Priyanka.
Everything was detailed in the last diary entry on Saturday, which was titled “road to God”.
On Wednesday, the police found CCTV footage that showed two women of the family bringing stools and the boys bringing wires used in the hanging. They also had rotis delivered.