Iowa woman declared dead found alive gasping for air in a body bag
Lal Bihari remained officially ‘dead’ in revenue records between 1975 and 1994. (Illustrative image.) Image Credit: Shutterstock

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh): It is a story of struggle that just does not seem to end.

Lal Bihari Mritak, who remained dead in revenue records for 19 years till he managed to reclaim his living status, is now facing a threat to his life because he is helping others who have been declared dead in revenue records.

Lal Bihari Mritak has sought a licence for the prohibited AK-47 rifle, citing threat to his life.

“I request the chief secretary to permit me to get a licence of AK-47 rifle, as I fear life threat because of my struggle for scores of men who are living but are dead in government records,” said Lal Bihari.

He said he is writing to UP chief secretary for a licence for the prohibited gun. An individual cannot own a licensed AK-47 in India, as it is only for special forces.

“I know this sophisticated gun is prohibited for the public, but it can be given to a ‘mritak’ (dead person),” he said.

Lal Bihari remained officially ‘dead’ in revenue records between 1975 and 1994.

He fought with the bureaucracy for 19 years to prove he was alive.

Meanwhile, he suffixed ‘Mritak’ (dead) to his name, and founded the Mritak Sangh to highlight the plight of people declared dead on records in connivance with government staff to usurp their property.

Mritak came to know that he was declared dead in revenue records when he applied for a bank loan. His uncle had bribed an official to register him dead and got ownership of his ancestral land transferred in his name.

Over the years, Bihari tried various ingenious ways to expose the misappropriation in records and attract attention to his plight.

He organised his own funeral, and even applied for a widow pension for his wife. He went on to contest elections to prove he was alive. In 1994, Bihari finally managed to have his dead status annulled after a prolonged legal struggle.

A biopic on his struggle, ‘Kaagaz’, was made by Satish Kaushik in 2021, in which actor Pankaj Tripathi portrayed his character. The movie, based on corruption and flaws in the system, featured Monal Gajjar, Mita Vashisht, Amar Upadhyay and also Satish Kaushik.

He sought compensation for his struggle but the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court dismissed a plea filed by him, seeking Rs 25 crore compensation from the government for the years he lost when he was officially ‘dead’.

The bench also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on him for wasting the court's time.