Thursday, May 25, 2006

40,000 former land owners declared dead by their families

In India, it is relatively common for people to falsely declare their loved ones dead in the interest of inheriting that person's land. There, it costs the US equivalent of one dollar to get a minor official to produce someone else's fake death certificate. The government, in turn, habitually refuses to change the status of those declared dead, even when directly confronted by the non-dead land owners.

A man named Lal Bihari spent 16 years in a legal battle simply to be declared alive.

"I myself had gone to government officials to tell them I am alive. I went to police stations, to revenue courts and even met politicians with the only request to recognize me as a living person," Bihari says.

He says he was declared dead in 1984 by revenue officials in Azamgarh, 300km southeast of Uttar Pradesh state capital Lucknow, after his uncle connived with officials to grab his property.

He discovered his administrative status as dead when he went to officials to try to find out how his uncle had managed to get 16 acres of Bahari's land transferred into his own name.

Many of the 40,000 people in this situation, though, never renew their living status. They begin as wealthy landowners, only to find that their families have stolen their estate, the government considers them dead, and they are hopelessly poor and hungry. Mahboob Hasan (no jokes about the first name, please) is one such person:
"My son grabbed my property by producing a fake death certificate. I have met officials but the government still refuses to recognize me as alive," he said. "The village head has recognized me as alive, but the revenue officials still consider me a dead man."


Blogger Michael Farris said...

Mahboob is a fine name, meaning something like 'beloved' in Arabic, though obviously he wasn't very beloved or his son wouldn't have screwed him over like that.

The sad truth is that families are just flat out evil to some of their individual members sometimes and no amount of family-values propoganda can counteract or deny.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Sanjay said...

On the other hand you might use a similar method to seize the much more heavily trafficked Althouse blog. Food for thought.....

4:45 PM  
Blogger Michael Farris said...

sanjay, you make the news come alive!

11:34 AM  

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