Natwarlal leaves ’em guessing even in death

When alive, India’s greatest con artiste “sold” the Taj Mahal to gullible foreigners, duped hundreds of people of crores of rupees, inspired millions of grandma’s tales and even a movie starring Amitabh Bachchan.

In death, Natwarlal, 97, who outwitted the police in eight states, is living up to his legend. In the finest Natwarlal tradition, he “died” twice, 13 years apart.

His lawyer Nandlal Jaiswal filed an application before a magistrate in Kanpur on Tuesday, calling for the dismissal of 100 cases pending against Natwarlal “since he died on Saturday, July 25”.

But Natwarlal’s brother, Ganga Prasad Srivastava, 85, told HT: “He died in 1996. I personally cremated him in Ranchi but don’t remember the exact date.”

What is the truth? The police in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have no clue.

“The last we saw of him was on June 24, 1996,” said SHM. Rizvi, superintendent, Kanpur District Jail, where Natwaralal was serving time. He vanished from custody that day at the New Delhi Railway station when he was being taken on a wheelchair from Kanpur to AIIMS for treatment. He was 84 then.

The conman, born Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava, used more than 50 aliases, was a master of disguises and had “sold” the Taj Mahal thrice, the Red Fort twice and the Rashtrapati Bhavan once to gullible foreigners.

His legend lives on: conmen who pull off particularly smart frauds are called Natwarlal.

(With inputs from Patna bureau)


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