Lal Bihari (or Lal Bihari Mritak,; born 1955) is an Indian farmer and activist from Amilo, in Azamgarh district, Uttar Pradesh, who was officially dead between 1975 and 1994. He fought with Indian bureaucracy for 19 years to prove that he is alive. Meanwhile, he added Mritak (deceased) to his name, and founded Mritak Sangh, the Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People, to highlight other cases like his.
In order to apply for a bank loan, Lal Bihari visited the revenue office at Azamgarh district headquarters to get a 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 a similar situation, 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 was awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Award in 2003. In 2004 he ran for a seat in the parliament of Lal Ganj.
Bihari continues to support other people in similar situations. In 2004 he sponsored fellow Mritak Sangh member Shivdutt Yadav when he contested election against Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Source: Lal Bihari