The House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths

Blogtober 21 Day 24

It’s the last week of October and we are all looking forward to Halloween, very much. We have been Pumpkin Picking and picked some of the most incredible looking pumpkins ever. We never knew there were so many varieties. We will post soon on our fruits of labour!!

This post is all about what we have watched over the Halloween season – which in fairness hasn’t been much, work hasn’t really allowed us the luxury. However, we did start a new series called KIN an AMC original series. That just means that it’s not available on Netflix, Amazon Prime or any of the i-player channels. We streamed it instead via an app. Shhhh!

KIN is set in Dublin and tells the story of a fictional family embroiled in gangland war. It speaks to the enduring unbreakable bonds of blood and family. The family name is Kinsella and we are guessing that is where the title derives from, as well as ‘kin’ meaning family. KIN is very similar to The Khan (a book two of us are reading at the moment for book club) which again looks at deep family bonds, and how far one is prepared to go to protect family and legacy. What I love about both KIN and The Khan is that they are gangster families led by women and in which the women rise to the top. The women are the ones who pull all the strings, the puppet masters, so to speak and it is fascinating to see how women conduct business in what we perceive to be a mans world. It is very different to going in guns blazing. The women seem much more calculated and manipulative, yet full of emotion and connectivity and it totally floats my boat. We women are dangerous when we want to be. I want to be in something like that; The head of the household and making all the decisions that rest between life and death all based on loyalty and betrayal.

But back to the actual series at hand which again is another powerful story about a family, from Delhi.

The Indian Netflix series is called The House of Secrets. This is a docuseries based on a real life situation culminating in the death of 11 members of the same family. The series starts with images of all 11 members of the family hanging by scarves and make shift nooses, from the ceiling. 3 generations wiped out. And the question on everyone’s lips throughout the whole series is, how? The bodies are found hanging in the formation of a Banyan Tree, with its branches growing downwards from the roots. The eye’s are blindfolded, gags in mouths. Cotton buds in ears, hands and feet tightly bound with cable ties.

Police investigating the case later found 11 pipes sticking out of a wall of the house, in the same formation of the hanging bodies. 9 of the heads facing outwards, two heads facing down. A speculation is that this so that the souls can exit the house with ease. There are 11 windows, all shut. There are 11 dairies tucked away next to a religious shrine. Experts in numerology were called in to see if they could make a connection of the number 11 to what happened at the house.

Was the number 11 significant? Was this accidental, murder, suicide or something else?

The investigation follows a series of encounters with neighbours, local businesses, and close friends to gather information on all the members of the family. Who were they, what were they like, what were the relationships, and what could have possible befallen upon this family for such an atrocity to have occurred. Naturally the family are reported as normal, as having no issues, and the nicest, most unassuming people you could ever meet. Experts from all different fields are then called upon to assist in piecing together what could have happened. The situation is grave, with no easy answers.

What is probably the most fascinating aspect of all in the crime investigation is that, up until this day, no one can explain what actually happen. There is no conclusive evidence to suggest it was murder, suicide or mass suicide. It is all left open with no real conclusion. There are many possible answers; a ritual gone wrong, a religious offering, or a situation leading to mental health. Slowly experts uncover deep trauma held within the family and particularly with the youngest son of the family. Narayani Bhatia stepped up after the death of their father. It is said that the death of the father affected him the most – with psychosis taking holding of him. Was he the leader, was he to blame? The evidence is inconclusive, there is no one to point the finger at. There is no one to prosecute as the only ones that knew exactly what happened that fateful night, were all found hanging. Bar one – grandma 80 years old. She was found on the ground with suffocation marks around her neck – from a belt that seemed to have snapped off of the wardrobe door it was tied to.

The forensics team do however make a staggering revelation which goes some way in trying to explain the ordeal. The diaries seem to hold the key as to what could have happened. Inside the diaries are rows and rows and rows of instructions that allude to a religious ritual, of sorts, in which all 11 members seem complicit. But how? There were young adults who were educated with good jobs in IT and young students at university. There were children under the age of 11, how could they have all been complicit? What was driving this family to engage in whatever this was that resulted in their deaths?

The docuseries is compelling and disturbing, particularly when you think about the younger members of the family. They all had their whole lives ahead of them… none of it seemed to make any sense. There are so many ‘what ifs’.

The series has sparked a lot of debate on the mental health aspect of the investigation. And this is key – we don’t ever talk about mental health, particularly if you come from a South Asian background. It is unfortunately frowned upon and if anything The House of Secrets spreads some awareness on what can occur if we do not talk about the deep trauma and the pressure humans find themselves under. The investigation shocked the whole of the country; experts, journalists and members of the community alike. It was a deeply tragic case that left its mark on close family and friends and they are unable to speak about it.

We don’t want to give too much away as it is absolutely worth your time and energy. The way the narrative weaves in and out of so many ‘What If’s’ – we will never know exactly what happened. It blew our minds and we could not stop watching The Burari Deaths.

On another note – I loved the fact that such a compelling docuseries, on Netflix utilised 3 languages of which I am fluent in; Punjabi, Hindi with English subtitles.

Review: Anuj Kumar of The Hindu wrote: “What makes the series convincing is the way it captures the inability of the experts in different fields to answer all the questions, and how the case impacted the lives of journalists who covered it, as well as the policemen and forensic experts who investigated it. Whatever they say solves a part of the jigsaw puzzle, but could not complete the picture, because ultimately there is no clear consensus even on whether it was a crime story.”[15]


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