Bollywood actor Nana Patekar’s cook Santosh Singh, who has been sitting on a dharna at Jantar Mantar since January 8, has filed his nomination for the upcoming presidential election. But unlike others in the fray, this 32-year-old doesn’t have any presidential aspiration.
Singh is contesting the election just to get his existence back. MiD DAY had reported on January 17 (Dead man fasting), when Singh had gone on a hunger strike from January 8 demanding his existence back. He claims his relatives have declared him dead because he married a Dalit girl and have illegally taken possession of his ancestral land.
“I have been sitting on dharna for the past six months, and have knocked on the doors of every possible government agency. However, nobody listened to me. I didn’t have any other option but to contest the election so that people see that I’m not dead,” said Singh admitting that he’s aware that his candidature will be rejected.
However he has no qualms about it. “At least my fight for an identity would get highlighted,” Singh said, adding that a few people even advised him to commit some crime, so that his name gets registered in government records. “My conscience did not allow me to that,” he said.An orphan, Singh’s life has been full of ups and downs.
He lost his father at a young age of just eight years, while his mother died when he was 15. Brought up by paternal uncles, Singh came to Mumbai in 2000 and started working with Nana Patekar as his cook. “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 Singh, adding that 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. 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. “Despite numerous petitions yielding no results, I’m hopeful that I’ll get my identity back this time. The officers who took my papers in parliament have asked me to contact them on July 2. They’ve promised me that they’d help me get a voter ID card and other documents. Till then, I am keeping my fingers crossed,” said an optimistic Singh.