Dead man fasting
Actor Nana Patekar's cook says he was declared 'dead' by his kin in UP and his property usurped after he married a Dalit girl from Mumbai
At Jantar Mantar, wobbled by the cacophony of crusading loudspeakers and hunger, lies a dead man awaiting resurrection. Santosh Murat Singh, a 32-year-old, who was employed as a cook with actor Nana Patekar till sometime ago, is on a hunger strike since January 8 demanding his existence back.
Waiting for justice: Santosh Singh has been sitting at Jantar Mantar
with a placard that reads, "Main zinda hoon"
He claims his relatives have declared him dead because he married a dalit girl from Maharashtra and have illegally taken possession of his ancestral land.
"In the year 2000, Nana Patekar had come to my village Chittoni in Varanasi to shoot the film Aaanch. Nana liked me and took me to Mumbai where I worked for him as a cook," said Santosh. He claims he got married to Supriya Adangale, a Dalit girl from Mumbai and went back to his native place in 2002.
"When my relatives in Uttar Pradesh realised my wife is a Maharashtrian Dalit, they threw me out of the village, declared me dead and performed my last rites," he said. Santosh claims they have taken over his 12-acre land and the Gram Pradhan too refuses to acknowledge his existence.
Fighting for life
Since then, according to Santosh, he has been running from pillar to post. "I had hired a lawyer but couldn't meet his ever-growing demands. Finally, he also changed sides. I have written letters to everybody from the President of India, the National Human Rights Commission to police officials, but nobody has responded so far," he said.
Santosh said some of his relatives are builders with clout in Mumbai. "Once they had me tortured at a police station there. A cop threatened me and said he would burn me alive. My left ear drum was torn and hot tea poured on my hands," he claimed.
He claims he has documents to prove the ownership of his land and also medical records to establish the atrocities he has suffered. "But nobody listens to me because I have no money to seek legal guidance. Actor Nana Patekar has been very supportive and his family has been kind to me but there is a limit. I can't ask him to fight my battle. Besides I don't want him to get involved in a Marathi-North Indian controversy," he said.
Want to be heard
Santosh also states he had filed a complaint with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) on January 10 on behalf of his wife. According to a copy of the document he possesses, the commission on January 12 has asked the SSP and DM of Varanasi to submit information regarding the case within 15 days. When MiD DAY contacted Ram Kumar DIG/SSP Varanasi, he replied, "I have no information of such a complaint yet. But let me look into the matter."
With a bag full of documents close to his chest, he has been sitting at Jantar Mantar, with a placard that reads, "Main zinda hoon (I'm alive)." But will Santosh Murat Singh live again, that is the question.
He was a sincere worker: Nana's son
Nana Patekar's son Malhar acknowledged the fact that Santosh did work at their house before he left to fight for his land. "He was a very sincere worker and I quite liked him. We knew he had some land dispute going on and he was tense mostly due to that. We have been trying to be supportive on humanitarian grounds, though I know very little about his wife," he said.