Conman in India convicted after impersonating wealthy landlord's son for four decades

The 60-year-old man was found guilty of cheating, impersonation, and conspiracy to seize property

Dayanand Gosai, left, claimed that he was the son of Kameshwar Singh, a wealthy landlord whose son Kanahaiya (right) went missing in 1977. Photo: Rajesh Kumar

An Indian court convicted a man who conned a wealthy family for 41 years by impersonating their teenage son, who went missing in 1977.

Dayanand Gosai, 60, was found guilty of cheating, impersonation, and conspiring to seize property worth two billion rupees ($26 million) belonging to Kameshwar Singh and his family in the eastern state of Bihar.

Mr Singh, a wealthy landlord from Murgawan village in Nalanda district, had six daughters and a son, Kanhaiya, who went missing at the age of 16.

Gosai chanced upon the rich landlord in 1981, when he came to Mr Singh’s village for alms and posed as his missing son.

Mr Singh, who was 75 at the time and partially blind because of a cataract, was longing to reunite with his missing son, and promptly accepted Gosai’s claim.

But his wife, Ramsakhi Devi, was sceptical about Gosai’s claim after she discovered that he did not have an injury mark on his head like his son.

After the conman failed to provide any details about his childhood memories with the wealthy family, Ms Devi filed a criminal case against him.

He was briefly arrested on charges of fraud and impersonation.

Dayanand Gosai, 60, was convicted of impersonating the son of a wealthy landlord. Photo: Rajesh Kumar

But Mr Kumar was convinced that the conman was their missing son and insisted that Ms Devi bail him out.

His trust in his “son” grew stronger and he entrusted him with managing family properties, including dozens of acres of land, a sprawling bungalow and several apartments in the capital city Patna.

Gosai then sold off about 10 acres of land.

Mr Kumar failed to expunge the criminal case despite the court trial continuing at sluggish speed.

After Mr Singh’s death in 1990 and Ms Devi’s in 1995, the case collapsed before one of the couple’s daughters launched a new appeal to save their ancestral properties from the impostor.

Vidya Kumari, now 75, filed an appeal in the Supreme Court to reopen the case the same year.

Ms Kumari had demanded in court that Gosai take a DNA test in 2019, but he refused.

“Ms Devi and her daughters never accepted him as their own,” Rakesh Kumar, Ms Kumari’s lawyer, told The National.

The lawyer said they succeeded in unmasking the impersonator after police found a letter written in 1988 that bore Gosai’s home village address.

Police found a witness, who identified the conman as Dayanand Gosai, a resident of Lakhe village, about 160 kilometres from the wealthy landlord’s village.

Gosai’s lawyer had told the court that his client was indeed Kanhaiya, and that Dayanand Gosai was dead, submitting a “death certificate” as proof. The certificate turned out to be a forgery.

“When we investigated the authenticity, the government officials who issue death certificates denied having any record,” Mr Kumar said.

The court sentenced Gosai to three years in jail for impersonation, three years for cheating and another six months for criminal conspiracy.

The jail terms will be served concurrently.

“We are glad that after 40 years, we could prove his real identity,” Mr Kumar said.

Updated: April 08, 2022, 12:17 PM