Proved ‘alive’ after 18 years, Uttar Pradesh farmer moves court for compensation

This is the case of the Living Dead, filed by Lal Bihari ‘Mritak’ who has remained ‘dead’ in revenue records for 18 years.
Lal Bihari ‘Mritak’ at work  | Express
Lal Bihari ‘Mritak’ at work | Express

LUCKNOW: On January 15, 2018, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court will take up a case to decide whether a person who was officially ‘dead’ but is actually neither dead nor injured in an accident is entitled to compensation from the government.

This is the case of the Living Dead, filed by Lal Bihari ‘Mritak’ who has remained ‘dead’ in revenue records for 18 years. The ‘death’ came about thanks to a conspiracy hatched by Lal Bihari’s uncle who usurped all his property given he was officially dead.

After a prolonged struggle, Lal Bihari managed to come ‘alive’ and formed the ‘Mritak Sangh’, the association of the ‘Living Dead’. He then moved court seeking compensation from the government for the years he has been officially ‘dead’.

The high court is now hearing his petition. “Normally, compensation is paid in cases of death or accident. But this is a unique case and we are seeking compensation citing Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution that deal with the right to equality, life and personal liberty,” said Lal Bihari’s lawyer, KK Pal.

The case has been running for 12 years, although the issue dates back to July 30, 1976. “It was a long and gruelling battle of 18 years to prove myself alive,” recalled Lal Bihari, as he told The Sunday Standard how he ran from pillar to post to get his ‘living’ status back in revenue records.

On his ongoing legal battle, Lal Bihari, a farmer of Azamgarh, said: “I am fighting to get a compensation of Rs 25 crore from the state government for those 18 prime years of my life which I lived as ‘dead’ and deprived of my identity. All those years went by just in proving that I am alive.

Asked how he came to know he was dead, Lal Bihari said, “I wanted a loan against my property which I inherited from my father to start a handloom business. I approached a bank and was told to produce my credentials.” When he visited Khalilabad, his native place, to collect his birth, property, income and caste certificates, he was told he was registered as ‘dead’ since July 30, 1976 in revenue records and that his property was in his uncle’s name.

Then began Lal Bihari’s struggle to prove himself alive – from contesting elections to kidnapping his nephew to get entry into government records even as a criminal. He applied for his wife’s widow pension but failed to get it. In 1989, he entered the Assembly with a visitor’s pass and shouted: “Mujhe zinda karo (Make me alive)”. He was thrown out and nothing came of it. But he was noticed by then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav.

In 1988, he contested against former Prime Minister VP Singh from Allahabad. In 1989, he filed his nomination against Rajiv Gandhi from Amethi and applied to get the election countermanded as he was ‘dead’. Still, nothing happened.

Finally, due to the efforts of revenue officials, his living status was restored on June 30, 1994.
Now heading an organisation of the ‘living dead’ which has over 20,000 members and a pan-India presence, Lal Bihari is now set to come alive on celluloid. Actor-director Satish Kaushik is contemplating a biopic on him with the name ‘Main zinda hoon’.

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The New Indian Express