Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Election of the Living Dead

No, that's not a description of the average Labour Councillor (although it would be an apt one):

A villager is campaigning in northern India for the rights of people declared legally dead by cheating relatives seeking to steal their assets.

Lal Bihari, a lower caste villager who lost his father's inheritance due to an unscrupulous uncle, formed the "Union of the Dead" in 1980 to fight for the rights of thousands he says have fallen victim to scams by relatives.

He is contesting as an independent in a month-long election in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, which ends on Tuesday.

In 1976, an uncle allegedly connived with corrupt local officials to fudge village records and declare Bihari dead. The uncle then won the inheritance of Bihari's father.

"It was only as late as in 1994 that I succeeded in proving myself alive," Bihari, 52, said.

Like many poor in India, it was very hard for him to get a court ruling to reverse the decision, due to corruption and a backlog of millions of cases in the judiciary.

"Nearly 3,000 others are fighting their independent battles in other parts of U.P. (Uttar Pradesh) to prove that they are alive," Bihari said.

Imagine, a politician standing for election on a reasonable and honest platform. As likely as zombies themselves, ain't it?

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