Temple? Burari wonders what to do with ‘house of death’

The neighborhood continued to attract curious passersby even on Thursday as they would stop their vehicles to discuss the deaths and take photographs.

The Burari house in which 11 members of a family were found dead on Sunday stares at an uncertain future with a few locals suggesting that a temple should replace the building.

The deaths left many residents scared, a few tenants in the alley are contemplating relocation and local businesses are suffering because of the continued police presence.

The neighborhood continued to attract curious passersby even on Thursday as they would stop their vehicles to discuss the deaths and take photographs.

The family of 11, including seven women and two children, was found dead on Sunday. While 10 of them were found hanging in the hallway, the eldest member of the family, 77-year-old Narayan Devi, was dead on the floor.

Most of the dead had their limbs tied, eyes blindfolded and ears plugged with cotton. Multiple notes indicated the family, allegedly guided by Narayan’s son Lalit Bhatia, was practising a religious ritual that went wrong.

The police on Thursday denied reports Lalit watched ghost shows on his phone. “We are yet to unlock the phones of Lalit and Teena,” said a senior officer. No role of an outsider in possibly influencing the family has emerged yet.

A few locals suggested the house be converted into a temple. “Neither would the building be occupied by a relative nor would it find buyers,” said Ramesh Tyagi, a resident.

But Ketan Nagpal, nephew of Lalit Bhatia, said the family was yet to take a call on house. “We will sit together a few days later and discuss. The police haven’t told us about the handover date yet,” said Nagpal.

The family’s relatives returned to their home town in Rajasthan by Wednesday morning, two days after the cremation at Delhi’s Nigambodh Ghat. “We will hold a memorial service at our native place,” said Nagpal, adding the family would soon return to Delhi to perform ‘havan’ at the house.

The house is currently sealed. Relatives had earlier said it was unlikely anyone from the family would move into the house. A brother and sister of the dead brothers Lalit and Bhavnesh Bhatia are settled in Chittorgarh and Panipat, respectively.

According to NK Agarwal, a property dealer in Burari, it would take quite a while before the house finds a buyer. “If there is a buyer, it will most likely be a local resident. But everyone in Burari knows the house. I don’t think the house will find a buyer for at least the next four-five years,” said Agarwal.

A few tenants in nearby houses were planning to relocate to another neighbourhood. Prithpal, a local resident who owns a shop there, said two students living on rent had left the same day the deaths had occurred.

“That resulted in fear. We were afraid after the deaths. But the landlord convinced the tenants to return. Residents now feel assured after police clarified no supernatural activities actually took place,” said Prithpal.

Navneet Batra, a local resident and a family friend of the Bhatias, told a news channel that his 21-year-old daughter who is otherwise a brave woman is living in fear. “She wants the lights to be switched on at all times and is afraid to lock the washroom door from inside,” said Batra. His wife said the “faces of the dead continue to stare at us”.

On Thursday, the house stayed locked, half-a-dozen policemen continued to guard the neighborhood and the street remained barricaded, leaving local businesses without customers.

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