There was a con man in India, who repeatedly sold the Taj Mahal, the Indian parliament and various other heritage sites. He was sentenced to 113 years but managed to escape prison 9 times, last when he was 84 years old. He was a living-legend in his lifetime and a legend even after his death.
Hoax or Fact:
The interesting story shared often on internet space talks about a legendary con man in India, who repeatedly sold various heritage sites like the Taj Mahal and the Indian Parliament House, and that he was sentenced to 113 years in prison but managed to escape 9 times before he was last seen at the age of 84 years. Strange it might sound, but the story talking about Natwarlal is a fact!
Natwarlal and His Modus Operandi
Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava, popularly known as Natwarlal was a master of disguises who duped hundreds of people of crores of rupees with more than 50 other identities. Natwarlal is said to have sold off the Taj Mahal to gullible foreigners thrice, the Red Fort twice, the Rashtrapati Bhawan once, and also the Parliament House of India along with its 545 sitting members. He was a master in forging signatures of influential personalities. He is said to have forged the signature of Rajendra Prasad, the ex-President of India. He employed novel ideas to cheat rich and famous personalities in India, sometimes approaching them as social worker. He also cheated several shop-owners lakhs of rupees by paying them by cheques or demand drafts that were often forged.
Natwarlal was caught by police several times, but it was difficult to keep him behind bars -- he had over 10 mysterious jailbreaks to his credit. The criminal was wanted by the police of 8 states, and his total convictions added up to 117 years in prison. He was last seen at New Delhi railway station on 24 June 1996 when the 84 years old (born in 1912) frail and apparently ill con man was being transferred on a wheelchair by policemen from Kanpur jail to AIIMS for treatment. He conned the accompanying policeman and disappeared in the crowd.
According to Ganga Prasad Srivastava, Natwarlal's brother, he died and was cremated at Ranchi sometime in 1996. However, according to Natwarlal's lawyer Nandlal Jaiswal, he died in 2009 at the age of 97. So the con man managed to dupe people even in his death. Natwarlal is survived by one daughter, who is married to a soldier and lives in Ranchi.
The people of Natwarlal's native village Bangra in Bihar take pride in the glory of their legendary (notorious) con man and have decided to install a life-sized statue in the vacant land where Natwarlal’s house once stood. Many people believe Natwarlal was no less than Robin Hood because he looted the rich, but helped the poor. They say this is the least they can do for the man who made their place famous.
Interestingly, his adventures inspired Bollywood to produce Mr. Natwarlal movie starring Amitabh Bachchan in 1979. And the legend of this most notorious and infamous thief lives on as any con man who pulls off smart frauds is called 'Natwarlal' in India.