Lal Bihari Mritak, The Farmer Who Was Declared Dead and Fought for 19 Years for Justice

by Taruna Deshmukh2 weeks ago
Picture Lal Bihari Mritak, The Farmer Who Was Declared Dead and Fought for 19 Years for Justice

Lal Bihari Mritak’s ordeal is not just a story of personal resilience against a flawed bureaucracy but also a powerful symbol of the fight against corruption and systemic failure. Born in 1955 in Amilo, Azamgarh district, Uttar Pradesh, Bihari’s life took an unexpected turn when he was declared dead by the Indian government, leading to a nearly two-decade-long battle to prove his existence.

How Lal Bihari Uncovered His Official ‘Death’ and Began His Fight

Village Scene in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, India. Image credit: JDSforall/

The bizarre journey of Lal Bihari began in 1975 when he was informed by a revenue office that he had been declared dead in the official records, a fraudulent act by his uncle to seize his land. This revelation kickstarted his relentless fight against the Indian bureaucracy to prove he was still alive, during which he founded the Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People to support others in similar predicaments.


Lal Bihari’s Fight Against a Flawed System

Hindu funeral
Hindu funeral. Image credit: Visun Khankasem/

Bihari employed various strategies to draw attention to his and others’ plight, including staging his own funeral, applying for his wife’s widow compensation, and running in elections against prominent politicians like Rajiv Gandhi. His efforts culminated in 1994 when he was finally recognized as alive by the government.


How Lal Bihari United the Wrongfully Declared Dead and Sparked Change

Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People
Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People. Image source: Telegraphindia

Recognizing that he was not alone in his struggle, Bihari established Mritak Sangh, an association that has grown to include over 20,000 members. The organization advocates for individuals wrongfully declared dead, successfully restoring several of its members to legal existence and challenging the systemic flaws that allow such errors.


From Personal Triumph to Pop Culture Phenomenon Lal Bihari’s Story Inspires Bollywood

kaagaz movie
Kaagaz movie. Image credit: @SKFilmsOfficial/Twitter

Bihari’s incredible story of resilience and determination inspired the Bollywood film “Kaagaz” in 2021, bringing widespread attention to the issues of bureaucratic negligence and corruption. The film highlights his struggle to reclaim his identity and existence in the face of an indifferent system.


A Continuing Legacy Bihari’s Ongoing Advocacy and Recognition

Lal Bihari Mritak
Lal Bihari Mritak. Image credit: JeetAarya/Wikimedia

Despite regaining his identity, Lal Bihari continues to advocate for those still fighting to prove their existence. His work has been recognized with the Ig Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, underscoring the ongoing need for systemic reform to prevent similar ordeals. Bihari’s legacy is a testament to the impact one individual can have on challenging unjust systems.

Lal Bihari Mritak’s life and activism highlight the profound impact of human resilience and the importance of fighting for justice, even against seemingly insurmountable odds. His story serves as a reminder of the power of individual action in bringing about systemic change.

Curious about more extraordinary tales of courage and truth? Check out our article below on famous whistleblowers, where bravery meets truth in the most extraordinary circumstances.

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Picture Lal Bihari Mritak, The Farmer Who Was Declared Dead and Fought for 19 Years for Justice
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