A foreign businessman is staring at the Taj Mahal. He is on a trip to India. Taj Mahal, symbol of love, one of the modern seventh wonders, the crown of India’s pride, the blink of foreigner’s eye is no more. At that moment, the eyes of the foreign businessman fell on an Indian standing next to him wearing suit boots. Keeping his eyes on the crown, the Indian mutters, “Oh God! They will you sell this monument!” The story of super conman of India starts here.
Will the crown sell? The foreigner’s eyes rose to his forehead. Who will sell? Whom they will sell? Why sell? How do you know that the crown is being sold? The foreign businessman stood in front of the Indian with the bunch of questions. With a sad face, the Indian replied, “I am the PA of the President of India. It is my responsibility to find a suitable buyer for the Taj. The time is only seven days. If there is no buyer, the Taj will be put up for auction. The matter is highly confidential.”
The foreigner was literally confused. Asked, “Do you have any ordinance signed by the President required to sell the Taj Mahal?” The Indian replied, “Of course. Do you want to see that?”
The foreigner scrutinized the ordinance. Ordinance written at the bottom of stamped Paper with Ashoka Emblem. Beneath it is the President’s signature. With documents and legal deeds of the Taj Mahal. The foreign businessman checked the signatures, documents and deeds, keeping the matter a secret with official friends of his country’s embassy in Delhi. The result … one hundred percent match … there is no doubt that it is the signature of the President of India! The papers are all original. The businessman immediately collected money and gave it to the President’s PA. Ownership of the Taj Mahal came into hand. After the Mughal emperor and the Indian government, the Taj Mahal was owned by a foreign businessman.
The next day, when he entered the Taj Mahal, his property, with an owner-like temperament, he was first knocked to the ground by the security. The more he says he bought the Taj Mahal from the Indian government … the more security laughs at him. In the end, the police was informed. The police came and laughed when they heard the whole thing. The news reached the ministerial level. All the documents of the foreigners were checked and it was seen that the signatures of the President, documents of the Taj Mahal, legal deeds etc. have been forged. But that forgery is so skillful that there is no way to understand it!
Reader: This is not a movie script. This really happened in the fifties. The protagonist of this fraud, namely “President’s PA”, was Mithilesh Srivastava alias “Natwarlal”, who in his fraudulent career sold the Taj Mahal three times, the Red Fort twice, the Presidential Palace once and the Parliament House once for a hefty sum! It is pertinent to note that at the moment Natwarlal sold the Parliament, the Parliament was in session! Nowadays, there is always an example of MP trading in the game of government collapse. But this is probably the only instance in the world where the entire MP building, including about five hundred and fifty MPs, was sold during the parliamentary session!
Not only foreigners, but also businessmen like Tata, Birla and Dhirubhai Ambani fell prey to Natwarlal! Natwarlal limed these businessmen sometimes as businessman, sometimes as government official, sometimes as social worker!
Politicians also did not get rid of Natwarlal. Natwarlal once went to a famous watch shop in Delhi and said, “I am the PA of Congress Minister N D Tewari. The Minister has called a special meeting where he wants to give an expensive watch as a gift to everyone present. You pack ninety-three expensive watches and give them to me. Send the staff with me. The price of the watch will be paid by draft from the Minister’s office. “The shop owner packed ninety-three watches and gave them to Natwarlal and sent two employees with Natwarlal. Nawbarlal came to North Block with them. Bring a draft from inside the North Block, hand it to them and leave with the watch. Two days later it was discovered that the draft was fake!
The same thing happened with V P Singh, the former Prime Minister of India. Exceptions … The meeting place were VP Singh’s daughter’s wedding and the watch shop was a jewelry store!
Natwarlal was caught nine times in his fraudulent life. He was jailed for a total of 113 years in about 150 cases of fraud … but he was sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison. He was granted bail for his first punishment. Eight times he escaped from prison … sometimes on his way to court, sometimes pretending to be a police officer. He had brought the necessary police uniforms from other police constables with a bribe of Rs 5 lakh. Unfortunately for the constables … one side of the bribe note was printed … the other side was white!
The last time he escaped from prison was in 1998, when he was 74 years old! Then he is suffering from arthritis … he cannot walk. After seeing Natwarlal lying on a bench on the platform of the Delhi station, two Habildars went to buy a train ticket. Another Habildar went to buy a cup of tea from the platform for the “motionless” old Natwarlal. They look back, the bench is empty … Natwarlal vanished! No one has ever seen Natwarlal since then.
In 2009, Natwarlal’s lawyer filed a petition in the court. In that petition, he wrote, “Natwarlal has died. Therefore, all the cases against him should be closed this time.” But for the person who can sell the Taj Mahal, is it difficult for him to make his own death certificate. The court closed all the cases after thorough investigation and Natwarlal’s death was proved. Notably, these cases were spread across eight states of India.
Natwarlal, the super thug of all time in India, had a great sense of humor. While in Tihar Jail, Natwarlal received a letter from Bihar written by his wife. The letter said, “We are in a lot of trouble because you are in jail. It’s time to cultivate, but we don’t have the money to plough the fields.” All incoming and outgoing letters to the jail are censored. After reading this letter, jailor kindly said to Mr. Natwarlal, “You write a letter motivating your wife”. Natwarlal wrote: “I have buried my last counterfeit jewelery in a pitcher in that field. Dig it up and sell the jewelery and support yourself with that money for now”. As usual, this letter was also censored. Before the letter, the police reached Natwarlal’s house. They dug up the whole field of Natwarlal in the hope of looted treasure… but nothing was found. A few days later, the jailor received a letter from Natwarlal’s wife again. The letter said, “The farm laborers you sent have dug up the whole field very well. Hopefully this year will be a good harvest.”
Natwarlal is being trialed in the court. At the end of the hearing, the judge called Natwarlal in his chambers. He sat Natwarlal in front and asked, “Honestly … how do you do these frauds?” Natwarlal replied, “Do you have a one Rs coin? Give it to me if you have any”. Judge hurriedly took out a coin of one Rs from his wallet and handed it to Natwarlal. Natwarlal put the coin in his pocket and said, “That’s how I do it.” The stunned judge said, “What do you mean?” Natwarlal replied, “I asked … you gave … I took. In the same way I asked money from people … people give … money becomes mine … Simple”.
In the seventies, movie was made to imitate Natwarlal’s life. Amitabh Bachchan played the role of “Mr. Natwarlal“. Then the real Natwarlal was imprisoned. Prison guards told Natwarlal, “There has been a movie imitating your life. Won’t you watch?” Natwarlal replied, “I am the real hero of the fraud world. What else can I see in a fake hero? Amitabh should come to see me”.
Natwarlal was handcuffed in the criminal world at a young age. One of his neighbors sent him to the bank to submit a bank draft. Before submitting the draft, Natwarlal tries to forge the draft signature and realizes that he himself is a rare genius in forging signatures! Natwarlal forged the signature of this neighbor, cut the slip, withdrew the money and sent his bank balance to almost zero!
After passing matriculation, Natwarlal came to study at Calcutta University and passed law! Natwarlal, a lawyer by profession, then forged the signature of a Marwari cotton trader in Kolkata, Barabazar and withdrew about four lakh rupees from the bank. This is Natwarlal’s first major crime.
Natwarlal was born in the village of Bangra in Siwan district of Bihar. He is still worshiped in that village. He is the Robinhood of that village. It is said that he used to distribute the money stolen from the rich among the poor people of his village. In that village even today he is not known as “Natwarlal” but as “Mr. Natwarlal” or “Mithilesh Babu”.
Another village located a short distance away of Bangra. The name of the village is Jiradei. It is said that one from Bangra village and one from Jiradei village caught the train from Siwan junction. One of the trains reaches Tihar Jail … he is the number one thug in India … Mithilesh Srivastava alias Natwarlal. And the train of the youth of Jiradei village reaches Raisina Hill. He is the first President of Independent India and Bharat Ratna, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Both studied at Calcutta University and both were lawyers.
Fraud is certainly a crime. Fraudsters should be punished. But when the forgery reaches the level of art, we must salute his brain. Today’s fraudsters, such as Harshad Mehta, Vijay Malia, Nirav Modi are suckling child to Mr. Natwarlal, because none of them have the power to sell the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, the Rashtrapati Bhavan or the Parliament House.
(2) “Crime Tak”: Channel “Aaj Tak”
(3) Dr. Tamalkanti Sengupta (MS), Associate Professor, Medical College Calcutta, Department of Surgery
(4) Dr. Indranil Aich.
Also read Sacred prostitution-Part II