In 1975, 20 year old Lal Bihari needed a loan. So to fulfill the bank requirements he needed proof of identity from the revenue office at district headquarters in India.
This is where his lack of funds became the least of his problems, because he found out that he had been registered as deceased. It turned out that his uncle had bribed a government official to have the living status changed in order to get some ancestral land that was going to go Lal.
For years Lal Bihari literally fought for his life, and ended up finding over 100 other people that were also officially dead, so he formed Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People, to try and help the dead.
At the moment there are more than 20 000 members in the group, but because these people live in fear of actually being killed by the scoundrels that took their property, only 4 had been able to resurrect their living status by 2004.
To gain more publicity Lal Bihary demanded widow’s compensation for his wife, and organized his own funeral.
In 1989 he even ran for election, to show that he was in fact alive. He lost, but I guess winning wasn’t his end goal, although it may have gotten him thinking in that direction, because in 2004 he ran for a seat in parliament.
In 1994, after being legally dead for almost 20 years, Lal Bihari was proven to be alive.
To bring awareness, and some humour, Bihari was awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Award in 2003. This award was created to “first make people laugh, and then make them think.”
What throws salt in the wound, is that this piece of land is less than an acre.