Did you know: Natwarlal – The Famous Indian Con-Man who sold The Taj Mahal
Any successful trickster, con-artist in India is referred to as Mr.Natwarlal, such is the legacy of Mithilesh Kumar Srivatsava (1912 – 1996/2009), popularly known as Natwarlal who duped crores of money from various Merchants, Businessmen and Industrialists across various Indian States. Wanted by 8 States in more than 100 cases, Natwarlal was sentenced to 113 years of imprisonment. However, he spent only close to 20 years in prison making eight daring escapes from various jails in his life.
Though much hasn’t been known about his personal life, he realized his con abilities when he was able to forge signature of his neighbor, Sahay. Once found, he subsequently fled to Calcutta gaining employment as a stockbroker. In 1937, he was arrested by Kolkata police for his theft of 9 Tonnes of Iron. With forged documents, he argued for the metal’s possession and was sentenced to 6 months of rigorous imprisonment on realization of those falsified documents.
From then, Natwarlal began an activity termed by the police as “Prostitute Poisoning”. By visiting prostitutes regularly, Natwarlal would turn those unconscious by offering spurious liquor and robbing their valuables. After identified during one such act, Natwarlal returned to his old con tricks.
Natwarlal worked with an effective modus operandi by focusing on every minute detail required to con peoples. To Industrialists/Businessmen/Banks, he would portray himself as a personal assistant to a high profile politician or businessmen requesting valuable objects (notably Jewels, Watches) for important meetings. Along with object, he would request the firm’s assistant to accompany him to receive the cheque/demand draft for the valuables brought. Presenting the forged cheque, Natwarlal would disappear with the goods.
During his life span, he has used more than 50 aliases to disguise himself. It has been assumed; Natwarlal forged signatures of Dr. Rajendra Prasad (President of India at that time) and allegedly sold Taj Mahal, Red Fort and various Indian Monuments.
Even Natwarlal’s death is as much a mystery as his life. In 2009, his lawyer requested to withdraw all the cases against him declaring Natwarlal’s death on July 25, 2009. Later, Natwarlal’s brother claimed to have cremated him 1996 at Ranchi leaving his death wide open for speculation.
Natwarlal’s acts were often compared to Frank Abagnale and Victor Lustig (the one who sold the Eiffel Tower). Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan’s 1979 Movie Mr.Natwarlal was roughly inspired by Natwarlal’s life and exploits.
VIDEO COURTESY: Bhaskban