Lal Bihari Mritak
Amilo, Azamgarh, India
|Died||From 1975 to 1994 (officially)|
|Occupation(s)||Farmer, activist, Social Worker|
|Known for||Fighting for the rights of people who are wrongfully declared dead, was himself declared dead between 1975 to 1994|
|Awards||Ig Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 2003|
Lal Bihari (or Lal Bihari Mritak, लाल बिहारी "मृतक"; born 1955) is an Indian farmer and activist from Amilo, in Azamgarh district, Uttar Pradesh, who was officially declared dead between 1975 and 1994. He fought with Indian bureaucracy for 19 years to prove that he is alive. Meanwhile, he added Mritak (transl. deceased) to his name, and founded Mritak Sangh, the Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People, to highlight other cases like his.
He lived in a small village of Uttar Pradesh before becoming a well-known personality. In order to apply for a bank loan, Lal Bihari visited the revenue office at Azamgarh district headquarters to get proof of identity, whereupon he learned that he was officially dead. His uncle had bribed an official to register him as dead, so that he would get the ownership of Bihari's ancestral land at Khalilabad, which measured less than an acre.
Bihari discovered at least 100 other people in similar situations, being officially dead. He formed Mritak Sangh, Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People, in the Azamgarh district. He and many other members were in danger of being killed by those who had appropriated their property. Currently, the association has over 20,000 members from all over India. By 2004, they had managed to declare four of their members alive.
Over the years Bihari tried to attract attention to his situation by various means. He organized his own funeral and demanded widow's compensation for his wife. In 1980 he added the word Mritak ('Dead') to his name and signed his letters "late Lal Bihari". He stood (unsuccessfully) for election against Rajiv Gandhi in 1989, to prove that he is alive. In 1994 he managed to have his official death annulled after a long legal struggle.
Bihari continues to support other people in similar situations. In 2004, he sponsored fellow Mritak Sangh member Shivdutt Yadav when he contested the election against Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
In popular culture
In 2021, film-maker Satish Kaushik made a movie about his life and "death", titled Kaagaz, produced by Salman Khan and Nishant Kaushik under the banner of Salman Khan Films and The Satish Kaushik Entertainment Production. It stars Pankaj Tripathi along with Monal Gajjar and Amar Upadhyay and was released on ZEE5 on 7 January 2021.
- "Plight of the Living Dead". Time. 19 July 1999. Archived from the original on 19 March 2011.
- "Azamgarh Journal; Back to Life in India, Without Reincarnation". New York Times. 24 October 2000. Archived from the original on 4 June 2009.
- Debroy, Bibek (2004). India, redeeming the economic pledge. New Delhi: Academic Foundation. pp. 133–4. ISBN 978-8171883486.
- "A movie on Lal Bihari Mritak". Oneindia Entertainment. Lucknow. UNI. 10 April 2006. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
- "Satish Kaushik trains his camera on the 'living dead'". DNAIndia. 13 March 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
- Hungama, Bollywood (4 January 2019). "Salman Khan to produce this Satish Kaushik film based on true incidents : Bollywood News - Bollywood Hungama". Retrieved 15 December 2020.