His story is nothing but tragic. Santosh Murat Singh is contesting the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections this year from Shivpur constituency of Varanasi district. His aim to contest elections was not to enter politics, but to prove that he is alive.

A resident of Chitauni village in Chaubeypur area of Varanasi, Santosh was declared dead in 2003 by his relatives after he married a Maharashtrian Dalit girl. The 37-year-old claims that he served renowned film actor Nana Patekar as a cook in Mumbai. His ordeal began when he left for Mumbai in 2000 with Nana, who was in Varanasi for the shooting of a film in his village.

“Nana Patekar had come to my village for the shooting of his film Aanch in 2000. I went to Mumbai with him and worked as his cook. There I married a Maharashtrian Dalit girl. After I returned home I was abused, assaulted and ousted from the community for marrying a low caste girl since I am a Rajput,” said Singh.

His ordeal did not end there. His cousins declared him dead and even performed his last rites. Later, his cousins got their names enrolled on 12.5 acres of his ancestral property.

Since 2003, Santosh has been running from pillar to post. “I had hired a lawyer but couldn’t meet his ever-growing demands. I even went to Delhi to protest against the government and administration’s indifferent attitude. I used to sit and protest at the Jantar Mantar.”

He claims that he has documents to prove the ownership of his land and also medical records to establish the atrocities he has suffered. He also alleges that just a few days before the election, some of his opponents got his phone number blocked and got it transferred to somebody else’s name.

“My number has been transferred in somebody else’s name. The government and my opponents are scared of me that I will expose the corrupt system,” said Singh.

Praising the veteran Bollywood actor, Santosh says that Nana has been very supportive and that his family has always kind with him. “Nana Patekar ji and his family has always been very kind to me and family and it is due to his and a private FM channel’s support that actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Rakhi Sawant and director Satish Kaushik have voiced their support for me in this election,” said Santosh.

His lawyer SK Chaudhary recalls how tough the fight has been for his client. “Santosh has faced a lot of hardships ever since he was declared dead. From the past 14 years, he has been fighting to prove that he is alive. How frustrating it must be for a man to give a logical argument to prove that he is not dead. We are with him in this tough time,” said.

Disappointed with the system and the government, he says, “I just hope that someday, people in the government and my village would wake up and give me my due.”

Speaking to InUth, Santosh claimed that there are nearly 50,000 people in the state who have been declared dead on records but are still alive. This 37-year-old wants to become an MLA so that he can help people who have been wrongly declared dead get justice and even work on a provision for them where they can get their pension that is due to them.

Earlier also in order to prove that he is alive, he had filed his nominations for the presidential elections, which was rejected by authorities.

He first chose to come to the hub of national protests in the year 2012 when some of his friends suggested that he should file nominations and contest elections to gain some visibility. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he even filed to contest against PM Narendra Modi from Varanasi but his nomination got cancelled.