Eleven members of a family were found dead in north Delhi’s Burari on Sunday, most of them hanging from the ceiling of their home, blindfolded, gagged and hands tied behind the back.

Police are investigating whether the dead – seven women, two men and two boys aged 15 – killed themselves or were murdered. Nine persons were found hanging from an iron grill in a hall in the first floor of the three-storyed building in Sant Nagar area of Burari. They had cotton and pieces of cloth tied over their eyes. A woman, who appeared to be in her sixties and was blindfolded, was found hanging from a door frame in a room. An octogenarian woman was found dead and without blindfold on the floor of the hall.

No signs of ransacking or theft were found at the house, and mobile phones and the gold jewellery on the bodies of the women were intact.

During the search, police found handwritten notes that indicated that the family observed certain spiritual or mystical practises. These were similar to the manner in which the mouths and eyes of the deceased were tied and taped, police said.

A police officer, who didn’t wish to be identified, said the house belongs to a businessman who ran a plywood shop and dairy and was among the dead. A neighbour with whom the businessman used to go for morning walks went to call him at around 8 am and found the door open. He raised an alarm and people then called the police.

Mahesh Pratap Singh Rathore, a grocer in Dhar town in western Madhya Pradesh, identified his sister, 40-year old Tina Chudawat, as one of the dead people. ‘I believe it must be a case of murder; it is impossible for so many people to commit suicide,’ Rathore told Hindustan Times. He said Tina married a man called Lalit Singh in 2002 and later shifted to Delhi.