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Brother has him declared dead in order to grab his land

This article is more than 12 months old

Although Indian farmer Ramjanam Mauriya is alive and well, he has been classified as dead in official records.

For the past two years, the 65-year-old has made countless journeys to the magistrate’s office with stacks of documents to prove he is not a ghost.

"It's frustrating. I am alive, yet they say I am dead," he said.

He is but one of hundreds of people from the state of Uttar Pradesh who have fallen victim to their unscrupulous relatives' schemes.

The victims' cousins, nephews or even their own sons have bribed local officials to falsify or destroy paperwork in order to grab their land.


Sweet shop owner Jagdish Prasad Gupta, 52, is in a different type of quandary: Having to prove that he has ever existed.

"The records say I was never born because my father died as a child," said Mr Gupta.

​He suspects a female relative bribed officials in order to get hold of a plot of land he had inherited.

Mr Gupta said he is not that bothered about the land, but wants to put the record straight so his own children don’t run into bureaucratic problems.


It has been nearly 40 years since Mr Lal Bihari discovered his three-acre plot in Azamgarh had passed into the hands of one of his cousins who had connived with a corrupt local bureaucrat to have him declared dead.

After he finally managed to persuade the courts he was the victim of fraud, Mr Bihari formed the Mritak Singh organisation (association of the dead) to help those who find themselves trapped in a similar nightmare.

"I went crazy running from one office to another for months," said Mr Bihari. "You even sometimes start doubting your own existence."


Authorities said they have put an end to such scams and that some people are making bogus allegations.

Azamgarh district magistrate L. Y. Suhas said most records have now been computerised, making it impossible to fabricate personal details.

Sociologist Mohammad Arshad​ said a craving for land is the main factor behind the scams.

"With land, you can attract business partners and make matrimonial alliances for yourself and your children," he said.

"Land makes the difference here."

Source: AFP