7 June 2013
Last updated at 01:32
Thousands of people have been declared dead in India, despite the fact they are alive and well. Unscrupulous relatives are accused of bribing officials in order to seize their land. Dhiraji Devi, 78, is battling in the courts to prove she is alive. Photographer Arkadripta Chakraborty has been documenting the "living dead" in Uttar Pradesh state.
Lal Bihari Yadav runs the Dead People's Society ('Mritak Sangh' in Hindi) in the district of Azamgarh and petitions on behalf of victims of corruption. Mr Yadav, 61, was 15 when he was officially declared dead and his land was seized by a relative. After appeals to officials went unheeded, he stage-managed a mock funeral for himself to publicise his case. He was finally declared "alive" in 1994.
Mr Yadav quickly discovered that others had suffered the same fate, and so he launched a campaign on behalf of the many thousands of people who have been illegally declared dead. He organises regular "skeleton rallies" in north Indian cities.
The Mritak Sangh has succeeded in bringing hundreds of people back to legal life, restoring to them their land and pride.
Ansar Ahmed, 61, and his wife fell upon hard times after he was declared dead. After a prolonged battle in the courts, he was declared alive some years ago. Mr Ahmed's wife has a hearing impediment and the couple have no money to pay for her treatment.
Mr Ahmed never got the land which he says he lost to his brother who allegedly bribed officials to declare him dead.
Paltan Yadav lost his land and property after being declared dead and became a sadhu (holy man). He says he did not have the money to fight a court battle.
Paras Nath Gupta, 65, lives in a rented house in the city of Varanasi, where he works as an accountant. He lost his ancestral house and land after he says he was declared dead by his brother. He says he cannot return home as he has been receiving death threats from relatives.
Most of the "living dead" are illiterate. This is the hand of such a "mritak", as they are locally called, with his thumb stained in ink - a thumb impression is often an acceptable signature.
Bhagwan Das, 73, who was declared dead years ago waits for an officer at a government office to plead his case. Once a month, senior district officials meet the "mritaks" to sort out problems and listen to matters relating to land disputes, which are common in the state.