Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Meet 'Main Zinda Hoon' — The 40-Year-Old Man Who Desired to Challenge PM Modi from the Varanasi Seat to Prove Himself 'Alive'

Santosh Murat Singh, the candidate from the Azad Adhikar Sena, reportedly had his nomination papers torn away by Varanasi election staff. They allegedly chased him away, claiming that his proposers from the transgender community were invalid. He was unlawfully held at the Chaubepur police station, deliberately obstructing his participation in the Varanasi Lok Sabha elections.
According to revenue records, Santosh was declared deceased in a train bomb blast in Mumbai in 2003.
According to revenue records, Santosh was declared deceased in a train bomb blast in Mumbai in 2003.

Varanasi- As the world's largest democracy engages in the grand festival of elections, a colorful array of candidates from diverse backgrounds and cultures steps onto the political stage.

While for many seasoned politicians and leaders, the pursuit of power and authority drives their campaigns, one 40-year-old man from the Varanasi constituency stands apart with an unconventional motive.

His desire for a political showdown with none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed peculiar at first glance, but his reason for contesting polls is refreshingly unique: "I wish to prove myself alive."

Seeing him wearing a placard that reads 'Mein Zinda Hoon' around his neck might elicit laughter from onlookers, but upon learning about his life struggles, no one can refrain from praising his courage.

Meet ' Mein Zinda Hun..Santosh Murat Singh' , a 5th class pass individual who has been striving relentlessly to assert his existence for the past two decades. Santosh's own narrative is as dramatic as any Hindi film. Being legally declared deceased while being very much alive, he is compelled to prove his existence at every turn.

Despite voicing his opinions to both the public and politicians through social media platforms, meeting prominent leaders, and protesting from Jantar Mantar to the streets of Varanasi, Santosh still finds himself unable to rectify his legal status on government documents. He has yet to succeed.

On Tuesday, May 14, 2024, Santosh was released from police custody. Undoubtedly, the path for those aspiring to contest elections against Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be arduous.

On May 11, he was unlawfully detained, allegedly due to complaints from villagers. The Varanasi police said twelve individuals, including Santosh, were brought in for questioning and promptly released the same day.

However, speaking to The Mooknayak, Santosh asserted that he was held in illegal custody for four days without justification and was only released on May 14 at 6 p.m. "This isn't the first occurrence; including this instance, the police have detained me 109 times. I've been striving to prove my existence for 20 years," shared Santosh, expressing his anguish.

Santosh Murat Singh hails from Chhitauni, Chaubepur, Varanasi. "My father, Murat Singh, served in the army and passed away in 1988, followed by my mother in 1995. All of my father's assets were in my name, but I was a minor at the time," Santosh disclosed.

In 2000, actor Nana Patekar visited Santosh's village for the shooting of the film 'Aanch.' "I cooked and served him good food during his stay, which pleased him immensely, prompting him to suggest that I accompany him to Mumbai."

Santosh then relocated to Mumbai with Nana Patekar and began working as a cook at his residence. During his absence from the village for approximately three years, some individuals wrongfully took advantage of the situation and falsely declared him deceased following the 2003 Mumbai rail blast.

Santosh Murat Singh has been staging protests for the past 20 years to prove his existence.
Santosh Murat Singh has been staging protests for the past 20 years to prove his existence.

According to revenue records, Santosh was declared deceased in a train bomb blast in Mumbai in 2003. Santosh recounts, "The villagers performed my funeral rites. Subsequently, with the collusion of the accountant, secretary, village head, and some of my own acquaintances, they fraudulently obtained twelve and a half acres of land in my name based on a counterfeit death certificate. I lost ownership of my land after it was registered and sold. Since then, Santosh has been striving to establish his existence on official government documents.

"After returning from Mumbai, my first course of action was to approach the police, but justice eluded me there. Subsequently, I sought legal assistance. However, despite paying the lawyer with the promise of securing justice, he ultimately demanded forty thousand rupees, an exorbitant sum. Unable to afford such an amount, I was compelled to drop the case," Santosh, who was erroneously declared deceased while still alive, embarked on the fight to reclaim his identity.

"In 2011-12, I participated in Anna Hazare's protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. Upon sharing my plight with Anna, he encouraged me to persist in the protest until I am officially recognized as alive."

Since then, Santosh has maintained a continuous protest. "If you inquire about my whereabouts, you'll easily find me—I protest in front of Varanasi Collectorate from 10 am to 5 pm. At night, when policemen chased people away, I seek refuge at Manikarnika Ghat. I sleep there and return to the dharna site every morning after bathing in the Ganges," Santosh expressed his anguish plainly, yet his unspoken agony resonates deeply with the listeners.

Santosh staging protest outside the Varanasi Collectorate.
Santosh staging protest outside the Varanasi Collectorate.

Santosh finds amusement in the notion of contesting elections. "Madam, those who run for office aspire to become MPs, MLAs, Presidents, and such. But I harbor no such ambitions. My sole desire is for the government to acknowledge my existence—to recognize that I am Santosh Murat Singh and that I am alive. That's why I carry this placard around my neck 24/7, proclaiming 'I am alive.' I am alive , That's why the police arrested me...I am alive , That's why I can file nomination papers,—I am alive, That's why I protest—these are all testaments to my existence. Please, let me be alive on paper!"

Reflecting on a past encounter, Santosh recalls meeting Sushma Swaraj during her hospitalization for cancer treatment. "I told her, I am a (Murda) dead man—I wish to offer you one of my kidneys so that we both can survive on one each.' Sushma ji was moved by my words and tried to extend assistance through her ministry, though she later passed away."

Santosh expresses disappointment over his experience with the electoral process. When he went to file his nomination papers with the Varanasi Presiding Officer, they asked him to deposit the security money at the treasury, which he promptly did.

However, he says, when he returned to submit his papers, they inquired about his proposers. Santosh replied that they were all from the transgender community. Shockingly, the personnel took this as an excuse to dismiss him, stating that he couldn't provide proper proposers. "This is not only my insult but also humiliating to the third gender," Santosh remarks. Subsequently, Santosh was detained by the police for four days until the stipulated time for nomination had expired.

"I had painstakingly collected Rs 25,000 through alms and contributions from people to contest the elections. When I inquired about my money, I was informed that it would be credited to my account after due process, and they couldn't return it immediately."

Meanwhile, the National President of Azad Adhikar Sena, Amitabh Thakur, has filed a complaint with the Election Commission concerning the unlawful detention of his party's candidate. Thakur alleges that Singh was unlawfully held at the Chaubepur police station, deliberately obstructing his participation in the Varanasi Lok Sabha elections.

Thakur asserts that Main Zinda Hoon has been subjected to illegal detention, despite having deposited a treasury challan of ₹25,000. According to him, officials not only verbally abused Singh but also tore his nomination papers, which he describes as a very serious matter.

Amitabh Thakur is urging the Election Commission to promptly investigate the incident and take all necessary legal actions, including filing an FIR against the responsible officials.

According to revenue records, Santosh was declared deceased in a train bomb blast in Mumbai in 2003.
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According to revenue records, Santosh was declared deceased in a train bomb blast in Mumbai in 2003.
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