Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava, better known as Natwarlal (1912-2009), was a noted Indian con man known for having repeatedly "sold" the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, and the Rashtrapati Bhavan and also the Parliament House of India along with its 545 sitting members. He was a living-legend in his lifetime and a legend even after his death.
He had duped hundreds of people of crores of rupees and used more than 50 aliases to disguise himself. He was a master of disguises and used novel ideas to cheat and was also a master in forging signatures of famous personalities. He is also said to have cheated number of industrialists including the Tatas, the Birlas and also Dhirubhai Ambani taking from them huge money in cash, posing as social worker or needy person. Also he had duped many shop-owners with lakhs of rupees, paying them by cheque and demand drafts, which were later found to be forged.
Natwarlal was wanted in more than 100 cases and he was wanted by 8 states police and was sentenced to 113 years in prison. However, he made daring escapes from different jails eight times in his life.
Natwarlal was arrested nine times but every time was able to break out of jail and run away. The last time he was arrested was in 1996 and was 84 years old at that time. But he managed to again give the police a slip and was last seen by authorities on June 24, 1996; when the wheelchair-using octogenarian vanished while being transported from prison to a hospital for treatment. He disappeared at New Delhi railway station, when he was being taken to AIIMS, under police escort from Kanpur jail for his treatment, after which he was never seen by anyone.
Death and mystery
In 2009, his lawyer requested that more than 100 charges pending against Natwarlal be dropped claiming that Natwarlal died on Saturday July 25, 2009. However, Natwarlal's brother, Ganga Prasad Srivastava, subsequently claimed to have cremated him in 1996 at Ranchi. So the actual time and year of death is yet uncertain and to say, in his finest Natwarlal tradition, he “died” twice, 13 years apart, living up to his legend.
In Popular Culture
The people of his native village Bangra in Bihar take a pride that he belonged to their village and have decided to put up a statue of him as his monument, at the place, where his house once stood.
His house is said to have been demolished by British, however, the land still belongs to the family.
He is considered to be greatest conman of India and his legend lives on as any conman who pull off particularly smart frauds are called Natwarlal in India and many fraudsters say they got inspired from the life of Natwarlal.
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