Uttar Pradesh – the most populated state in India is home to a unique kind of crime and human rights violation. Here showing a living person dead on government’s revenue document is an easy process for land grabbing. It is a ploy wherein government officials are bribed to declare a person dead on papers, leaving the deceased having no right on his own land and property.
It all started 37 years ago when one ‘Lal Bihari Mritak’, a man declared dead came walking straight to the court. In 1976, his relatives announced him ‘Dead’ and accordingly got official papers made to grab his land.
Lal Bihari, who in a bizarre sense of wits prefers to be called as ‘Mritak’ (Dead), created a ‘Mritak Sangh’ (ASSOCIATION OF DEAD) to which he is the only member and started a long sojourn and was finally declared Alive on May, 1994.
Now in a remote district of Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, without any aid or resource, Lal Bihari actively works to bring justice to ‘Mritaks’ who approache him with similar problems of land grabbing.
Because of the extremely fast transition from rural to an industrial, urban society with oped market in last few decades that India has undergone, survival on agriculture has confronted serious scares of land and resources which in turn has given rise to land related crimes and poor uneducated farmers are falling easy prey to the corrupt grind.
What this series seeks to focus is the quest of these landless individuals and their fight to prove themselves ‘Alive’,their dependence on land, economic disparity and a fight with Indian officialdom and judiciary, which is infamous for its slow paced workflow to retain their right to ‘Life’.
(Born in the border town of Agartala, capital of North-East Indian state of Tripura, Arkadripta Chakraborty is a 28-year-old independent photographer who divides his time between Guwahati/Assam and Agartala/Tripura. A post-graduate in Business Law, Arkadripta was always more inclined to explore the world through his lens. In 2014 he was awarded the India Habitat Centre Fellowship for photography for his ongoing work Titled “Crematoria”, a self-exploratory series that revolves around the space of a cremation ground. His work has been featured in BBC, Nat Geo Traveller, Reuters, Yahoo Originals, Danish Photo Journal, Open, Tehelka among others.)