A club for people whose relatives had them​ declared dead in order to steal their land

In 1980, Lal Bihari, a man from the poor Indian state of Uttar Pradesh whose cousins had bribed a local official to have him declared dead in order to steal the one-fifth acre of land he owned, founded Mritak Sangh, the "association of the living dead," for similarly situated people who spend decades (and sometimes their entire lives) trying to resurrect themselves in the eyes of the national bureaucracy.

Bihari tried many extreme tactics to get re-recognized as a living person, from applying for a widow's pension for his wife to bribing a policeman tho lay criminal charges against him so he could argue before a judge that dead people don't commit crimes, ergo he must not be dead.

He even kidnapped a cousin's child (but just ended up taking the kid to the movies for a while before returning him). In 1994, he was finally declared to be alive.

He still runs the Mritak Sangh, and answers the phone "Mritak (dead man) speaking." There's a lot of dead people in his club, but it's rare that he manages to resurrect one.

Gimmick after gimmick followed. He bribed a policeman Rs 500 to get a case registered against him and his cousin for rioting. The policeman returned the money when he discovered the motive. He applied for widow's pension for his wife, Karami. "They would refuse because I was alive. This would be a record for me," he says. But the government's refusal made no mention of him.

Next, Lal Bihari sold his property to contest the 1988 Lok Sabha election from Allahabad against former Prime Minister VP Singh.

Surprising even himself, he got about 1,600 votes. In 1989, he filed nomination papers against Rajiv Gandhi in Amethi and then promptly filed an application for countermanding the election, as he was dead. It was not countermanded, of course, but he got written about.

His resurrection, too, was theatrical. In May 1994, after an enquiry, the lekhpal and kanungo recommended that he be declared alive, but the file vanished from the tehsil office. Lal Bihari was furious. "I put up posters and handbills saying I was going to capture the tehsildar's office and write an order declaring me alive," he says. The next month, the tehsildar passed an order making him alive.

The Living Dead [Madhavankutty Pillai/Open]

(via Marginal Revolution)