‘Lalit Bhatia did not buy any mobile number on June 30’

Ever since the CCTV footage of 45-year-old Lalit Bhatia standing at a mobile shop went viral, the shop owner has been swamped with calls from family and friends asking him, “Really?”. Lalit and 10 members of his family were found dead at their house in north Delhi’s Burari on July 1.

Circumstances surrounding their deaths sparked wild rumours about the incident.

‘Mystical 51’

One of the rumours doing the rounds on social media claimed that on June 30 Lalit had bought two mobile numbers from the mobile shop across his house. It goes on to claim that Lalit searched through a few numbers to make sure the total added up to a “mystical” 51.

Refuting the claims, shop owner Sunil told
The Hindu
that Lalit “did not buy any mobile numbers”. “I do not know why this rumour is doing the rounds,” he said.

Sunil said that Lalit was a regular customer and often used to come to add money to his mobile wallet.

Showing the transaction ID marked 12.21 p.m., Sunil said: “He had come around 12.15 p.m. He gave me Rs. 500 and told me to transfer it to his mobile wallet. He told me he will come again for a similar transaction but did not come. He got Rs. 2,000 added on June 28 as well”.

Police sources confirmed that their investigation has so far not revealed anything to suggest that Lalit bought any mobile number.

Sunil said that Crime Branch officers had come to his shop and asked him about the mobile numbers. “Everybody was looking at us. It was a bit embarrassing,” he said.

The shop owner claimed that Lalit had been his customer for the past seven-eight years and he always “appeared normal”.

“He was a man of few words… he was also very generous,” said Sunil.

“Once a gurdwara needed plywood and Lalit gave them the material for free from his shop. Another time, one of his workers needed a mobile phone, and Lalit bought a mid-range phone for him,” said Sunil.

Another theory started doing the rounds after locals spotted 11 pipes, seven bent and four straight, protruding out of the right wall of the house. Among the deceased, seven were female and four were male.

Locals claimed that the contractor who built the house had put in the pipes on the express direction of Lalit. They also tried to match the pipes with the 11 deaths and claimed that the configuration of the pipes corresponded to the way the bodies were found.

Debunking the theory, the contractor who built the house said that no family member ever asked him to put any particular number of pipes.

“The work had been going on since June 2017. They knew that whenever a house would be built next to their residence, it would block the air. They just told me to install pipes for ventilation,” said contractor Kunwarpal.

Police sources said that during questioning, a neighbour admitted that he had advised the Bhatias to install pipes for ventilation.

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