People elect dead man in Bihar to fulfill his dying wish

Sohan Murmu, who won ward no. 2 of Deepakarhar village, falling under Khaira block, was nowhere to be found.

Jamui: A dead man has won a Panchayat poll held on Wednesday riding on a sympathy wave generated by his own death.

The real-life tragicomedy was detected in this impoverished district, situated about 200 km from the state capital, when officials were handing over certificates to candidates who won the polls held on November 24.

Sohan Murmu, who won ward no. 2 of Deepakarhar village, falling under Khaira block, was nowhere to be found.

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On enquiry, we learnt that Murmu had died on November 6, more than a fortnight before voting took place, Khaira BDO Raghavendra Tripathi said with a sense of bewilderment.

Deepakarhar happens to be a remote hamlet situated along the state’s border with Jharkhand, which perhaps explains the demography of the village which has a predominantly tribal population.

Old residents also recall that it was this village that was first hit by Naxal activity, in the 1990s, in the district that later became one of the worst infested by ultra-Left insurgency, according to a list published by the Union Home Ministry a few years ago.

Nonetheless, Tripathi’s account of what has happened suggests that the village and its residents retain an amazing simplicity, bordering on downright sentimentality.

Family members of Murmu, who defeated his rival by 28 votes, said it was the last wish of the deceased, who had been ailing, to win the election. So they kept quiet. No resident of the village informed us either. It appears that they all voted in his favour to honour his last wish, said the BDO.

The naivete of the bereaved family members and fellow villagers, nonetheless, has meant more work for the officials.

The winner’s certificate cannot be issued to anybody. We are going to write to the state election with the request that election for the ward concerned is nullified and fresh polls held, said Tripathi in a matter of fact way.

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