Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People
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The Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People (Hindi: उत्तर प्रदेश मृतक संघ, Uttar Pradesh Mritak Sangh) is an Indian pressure group based in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh that seeks to reclaim the legal rights of those falsely listed by the Uttar Pradesh State government as being dead.
In the overcrowded regions of Uttar Pradesh, many have resorted to bribing officials to have the owner of a plot of land declared deceased and the title transferred to their ownership. The process to undo this is long, arduous, as well as often hopelessly inefficient and corrupt. The Association seeks to reverse the declarations, call attention to the problem and prevent others from being exploited in similar fashion.
In 1976, 20-year-old Lal Bihari's application for loan in a bank in Azamgarh was denied, on the grounds that he was officially dead. He soon learned that his uncle had bribed a government official with ₹300 to have his nephew declared deceased in order to inherit Lal Bihari's ancestral land holdings of circa 1 acre (0.4 ha). Subsequently, Lal Bihari lost his home.
Formation of the Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People
Lal Bihari was advised by legal counsel that such a case was very common in the area and that having his death revoked would take years. To build momentum for the legal proceedings, he attempted to draw public attention to the case in a number of ways, including changing his name to Lal Bihari Mritak (mritak is the Hindi word for 'dead'). Bihari also insulted police and government officials, throwing pamphlets at them, trying to engage them in fights and also kidnapping his uncle's child, to entice them into arresting him. By arresting him police and officials would have to acknowledge that the person being arrested was living and hence papers would have to be produced for the purpose. He had his wife apply for widow's pension, which was denied. He also contested in Indian general elections against Rajiv Gandhi and V. P. Singh.
During these efforts, he attracted the attention of thousands of "dead" citizens across Uttar Pradesh. Lal Bihari banded these people together with the creation of the Uttar Pradesh Mritak Sangh (Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People). His efforts earned him the IgNobel Peace Prize in 2003.
- "‘Dead’ to Come Alive Against Vajpayee", The Tribune, 23 July 2003. Accessed 15 Feb. 2008.
- Fathers, Michael. "Plight of the Living Dead." Time Magazine, vol. 154 no. 2, 19 July 1999. Accessed 15 Feb. 2008.
- List of winners of the IgNobel Peace Prize
- "Back to Life in India, Without Reincarnation", 24 October 2000. Azamgarh Journal, New York Times International
- Photos of 'mritaks', BBC.
- "Lal Bihari "Mritak" and the Association of Dead People"