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Neighbours say, Bhatias were nice and friendly
An empty street, closed shops and people unwilling to talk are a clear indication of the horror deaths in Burari. Though the silence is deafening, one can feel the silent scream of the street and what transpired that Sunday at the Bhatia residence.
Locals say that Sunday morning would haunt them forever. Shock is still to die down in a locality where the Bhatias were like any other normal family. As supernatural and occult stories do the rounds, neighbours are divided. Some, on hindsight, feel the family was suspicious. Others are questioning how such an educated and friendly family could have orchestrated a mass suicide.
A neighbour Aniket (name changed) spoke on condition of anonymity. “The media is giving many angles but no one knows the truth. The Bhatias were good people. There was nothing unusual or weird about them. If there was something suspicious, it was all behind closed doors. They never fought with anyone. We went to their daughter’s engagement. There were around 150 guests. It was like any other ring ceremony. The family was busy practising for the sangeet and dance for the December wedding. We went to their house a few times. It was not as if outsiders were not welcome,” Aniket says.
He also tells you that they were just ordinary people; not overly religious. “We came to know through police investigations that the drastic step was taken because Lalit was mentally unstable. If only they had sought help, the family would be alive,” he adds.
Mini, a shopkeeper near the Bhatia house, says: “I closed my shop at 10 pm that Saturday. Lalit's shop was still open. That was the last time I saw the family. The next morning I got a call from another shopkeeper who told me what had happened. None of us has been able to sleep since the incident.”
Another shopkeeper Manoj (name changed), ho runs a cyber cafe near the Bhatia house, tells you that the family was nice and friendly. However, they kept to themselves. “I didn't know about their daughter's engagement. Their house was under renovation. They had closed the main door and would use a side entry. I asked them why they changed it. They said: ‘Yeh to bas temporary use ke liye lagaya hai'. They had also expanded their shop to stock more items. But the shop remained empty. Also, not many visited people their home. Most interactions happened at the store or down the street. We never saw their children play outside,” Manoj says.
The owner of a furniture shop, just 100 feet away from the Bhatia house, tells you that two women came around 8 pm to his shop to buy stools on Saturday. “First, they came to ask for the price and then went back into the house — may be to get money. There was bargaining. It didn’t appear that they were worried or stressed or were planning a suicide,” he says.
But not all neighbours feel the family was normal. Shanikant (name changed), who lives in the lane opposite the Bhatia house, has an opinion. “Lalit was strange and would tell his family: ‘Mein tumhey Shankar bhagwaan se milne ka raasta dikhaunga'. He was mentally disturbed since his father's death and would say his father would protect them,” he says.
A neighbour who lives across the Bhatia house says that the family could not have committed suicide. “They had made plans for the next day. They had even bought curd for breakfast. This shows they had no idea that they would die,” the woman says.
(Inputs by Musba Hashmi, Gurbani Singh and Muskan Jain)
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