If you die, you cannot own the land.
This is a simple logic that has created countless cases of people being registered dead and their property confiscated India. The BBC’s Chloe Hadjimatio writes that many have found that there is very little they can do about it.
Bader Yadav is alive, so according to a paper, he was surprised to find out that he was dead.
In the late 1970s, after the deaths of his daughter and son-in-law, Unexpectedly she had to raise her two grandchildren.
To pay for his upbringing and education, he sold the land he had inherited from his father in his hometown.
But a few months later he got a strange phone call.
“The man who sold the land told me there was a legal case against me,” he recalled.
“He said he was my nephew I told everyone I was dead And a cheater sold the land “.
Yadav immediately left Calcutta for the village in Assamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, where he now resides, north-central India. When he arrived, people were amazed to see him.
“They looked at me as if they were a ghost and said: ‘You are dead! We have already done the mourning rites for you! ‘
Yadav said he and his son-in-law were close and met the young man on his way to the city.
But Visits stopped When Yadav said he planned to sell the family land.
Yadav then confronted him when he learned that his son-in-law was claiming the land as his heir.
“He said, ‘I have never seen this person in my life. My uncle is dead.’ I was shocked,” Yadav said.
“I said, ‘I’m alive here, in front of you, How can you not recognize me?‘”
Association of the Undead
Yadav said he cried for several days, but then pulled himself together and called the Indian Undead Association.
The organization is led by Lal Bihari Mritak, who was informed that someone under the age of 60 was pronounced dead: he said he had been dead for a third of his life.
Bihari comes from a very poor family.
He never learned to read or write They sent him to work for 7 years To a sari factory. When he was 20, he opened his own textile workshop in a neighboring town, but he needed a loan to start a business and the bank asked him for a guarantee.
He went to the local government office in his village, Khalilabad, in the Azamgarh district, in the hope of getting the bonds. The land he inherited from his father.
The city accountant searched for his name and found documents, but also found a death certificate stating that Lal Bihari was dead.
Bihari’s claim was baseless, saying he could not die because he was standing there.
“In these documents, in black and white, He says you are dead“, They told them.
When Bihari’s death was registered with the local authority, the land and property he had inherited from his father went from him to his uncle’s family.
To date, Bihari says it is not known if it existed If a clerk error or your uncle tears you up.
Anyway, Bihari was broken. He had to close his workshop and his family was in a state of helplessness.
Poor, illiterate and low caste
But Bihari was not ready to give up and accept his death without a fight, and soon realized that he was not alone. People across the country were scammed by relatives who declared them dead to take over their land.
So to unite all these people Bihari formed an association of the undead and started a campaign to draw attention to their plight.
According to one estimate, there are 40,000 did not die In the state of Uttar Pradesh alone, most of them are poor, illiterate and inferior caste.
Bihari added the suffix மிருதக் His name was renamed, “Dead”, and “Dead Lal Bihari”.
Along with others in his situation, he organized struggles to gain media attention. But none of this was enough to change his position.
Then he decided to stand in the national election Got the name of a dead person to appear on the ballot.
When it was not enough to convince the authorities that he was alive, he almost committed suicide after three hunger strikes.
Finally, frustrated, he decided to kidnap his uncle’s son and break the law. He believed that the police would arrest him, and in doing so he would be forced to accept that he was alive; After all, The dead man cannot be arrested.
But the police realized what he was trying to do and refused to intervene.
In the end, Bihari got justice not for her own effort but for the same organization that changed her life.
A new district judge in Assam Re-examined his case 18 years after he was pronounced dead, Lal Bihari decided to stay alive.
Look through your property fence
Bihari notes that, through its Association of the Undead, it has supported thousands of people across India who have faced similar situations.
Many of them, he says, are not as lucky as him. Some lost hope and committed suicide and fought their case for years, while others died before proving they were not really dead.
Tilak Chand Thakat is just starting his fight. Currently, the man is 70 years old and when he goes to the farmland in Madhya Pradesh where he grew up, he should Look at her through a fence.
The old man has many health problems and he knows he will not be able to live long enough to walk in those fields again.
Younger, Thakat moved to the city in the hope that his children would have a better life and a higher income. When I was far away, He rented his land For a couple.
He discovered it when he returned to the city to sign some documents I am no longer the owner of the land Because he is said to be dead.
“The local officer’s office officer told me he was dead. I thought, ‘How can that be?’ I was very scared, ”he recalled.
Thakat says the married couple soon discovered that he had rented the land and recorded that he was dead. The wife pretended to be his widow and promised to go to court and be happy to give up the land.
When Contacting the BBC They did not want to answer any questions as the couple accused Dakat of taking over his property.
Lawyer Anil Kumar, who has fought several non-lethal cases, estimates that there should be at least 100 people who are said to have died prematurely in Assam, a province where Lal Bihari lives.
Every case is complicated, he says. Sometimes there are clerical errors, other times Public officials were bribed They have to write fake death certificates.
Ruling Indian People’s Party (BJP) spokesperson Shaina NC told the BBC that the current government was very active in enforcing the law against corruption.
“In a big and diverse country like India, there may be some loose cases that are growing again and again, but the majority (people) are protected by the good governance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he added.
“If there is a corruption case, there are adequate arrangements in Parliament to ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted.”
But when these cases are the result of a fraud, says Anil Kumar It is difficult to achieve justice.
In a case he defended, it took him six years to prove his client was alive, and 25 years later, he expects a verdict against the man who allegedly killed his client.
“If these types of cases are expedited so that the perpetrators can be punished, it will create fear among the people and prevent such crimes,” Kumar says.
Fake birthday cake
It has been more than 45 years since Lal Bihari Mritak was declared dead and it has been more than two decades to prove that he is alive.
But still Organizes an annual birthday party, Guests are seated around a large cake. When the knife cuts the frosting, it becomes clear to your guests that this is a decorated cardboard box – a gimmick.
“Inside it is completely empty. Some government officials: Empty and unreasonable”, Complained.
“I did not cut this cake. It’s the essence of the society in which we live.
Bihari still gets calls from all over the country, he wants advice and help to prove they are alive, but Has been losing strength for 66 years Now he is thinking about withdrawing from the fight.
“I have no money or energy to run an association of the undead,” he adds, “and there is no one to take care of it.”
He always hoped that the national media would protect those who had been evicted and that the government should control those who took bribes, but this did not happen.
Who spent 18 years of his life trying to prove he was alive One day he will actually die, Without achieving the changes he has long struggled for.
From the latest report by Piyush Nagpal, Ajith Sarathi and Praveen Mudalkar.
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