A twenty year old farmer, resident of India’s ‘badland’, must resort to kidnapping, getting himself arrested, demanding widow’s pension and running for parliament, all to prove he isn’t dead. Sounds like the plot of a ridiculous movie? It might be ridiculous but it certainly isn’t fiction. Problems come in various shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re so taxing that we want to give up. If you’re struggling with something and its inspiration you’re seeking, then look no further. Lal Bihari’s absurd story is enough to put some motivation back in you.
Lal Bihari, resident of Azamgarh, dubbed India’s ‘Badland’, needed a loan so he walked into a bank one day, unaware that his whole life was about to be turned upside down. The official attending him casually told him he could not apply for a loan as he is ‘dead’, legally (bummer!). Lal refused to buy it, since he was standing right there, hearty and hale. However, the ‘helpless’ indifferent official dismissed Lal, as there was no proof of him being alive.
He suspected error in documentation for this absurdity. But he found out later that it was his uncle’s connivance, who bribed officials and got him ‘killed’, to claim his land. While most would be in a state of despair, young Lal was in no mood to give up. He resorted to a number of freakish ways to prove he was infact alive.
Kidnapping was not something Lal had the stomach for, as is clearly evident from the outcome of this resort. Desperate, Bihari decided to kidnap his nephew in an effort to force his uncle’s hand. He kept the boy for a few days, took him to watch movies every day, waiting for the authorities to land at his doorstep. However, his uncle filed no report and eventually Bihari let his nephew to return home.
Failing in the first tactic, Lal tried applying for “widow’s pension” for his wife in the hope that when authorities reject this claim, they would have to concede that Lal was infact alive. Nonetheless, authorities denied the “widow’s pension” on other grounds, leaving Lal at another dead end.
Outraged by the corruption, Bihari tried other desperate measures, including asking a police officer to arrest him and arranging his own funeral. He even organized a protest in front of the state assembly. He screamed the words ‘Mujhe Zinda Karo’ at members but it fell on deaf ears.
One would think that after so many failed attempts, Lal Bihari would give up. On the contrary, his attempts only became wilder. Realizing that his case needed media attention, Bihari decided to contest for Lok Sabha elections! He filed a nomination to run against Rajiv Gandhi and V.P Singh. Although this didn’t help him prove his case , but it did do what Bihari had hoped for. Articles sprang up about his ludicrous story. Keen to keep this momentum going and a passion to help fellow victims, Lal Bihari established ‘Mritak Sangh’- the association of the dead. To his amazement, Bihari found that there were several others suffering the same plight. Many people came forward and sought his help to revive their cases. Lal Bihari tried relentlessly to instil courage in the hearts of those who had lost the will to fight.
In 1994, a Tehsildar finally ‘resurrected’ him after nineteen years of persistence. Speaking to the Times, Lal Bihari said, ‘It is a clever ploy. You don’t get your hands dirty by committing murder, and yet the person is as good as dead’. In any case, Lal Bihari’s nineteen year struggle just to prove he was alive is certainly inspirational and gives us a new perspective on problems and persistence.