New Delhi: Santosh Kumar Singh, a 32-year-old cook, has spent nine years trying to prove to officials that he is alive after his high caste relatives declared him dead following a row over his decision to marry a Dalit woman, known as an “untouchable.”
He has written to the Prime Minister, without success, and has now registered himself as one of 12 candidates for the presidency in the hope that the paperwork will prove his existence.
He had left his village in 2000 for a job in Mumbai where he fell in love and married a Dalit woman. When he returned to introduce his new bride to his high cast relatives three years later they told him he was a disgrace and chased him away, he said.
“They filed a missing person’s report, which was later changed into my death report. The villagers even conducted post-funeral ceremonies and gave alms to the poor to prove I was dead,” he said.
“Some of my relatives with help of police grabbed my 12.1 acres of land. I went to the police for help, but they attacked me. They said: ‘So far you are dead only on official papers, if you don’t vacate this village you will be dead for real.’” he added.
A legal action to overturn his death certificate was dismissed last year, he said, and his mother-in-law has been ridiculed for allowing her daughter to “marry a dead man.”
When he visited a police station in central Delhi to file a report challenging his “death,” he was told by officers he would need to commit a crime to generate case documents.
His manifesto contains only one pledge – to be recognized as alive – and he has no desire to be President.
“I filed nomination papers for the President’s post to prove that I am alive. I don’t want to be the President. All I want to do is prove I’m alive. If the government cannot declare me alive then I request them to kill me and issue a real death certificate in my name,” he said.