The farmer had taken a loan of Rs 5 lakh to buy the tractor, and owed the remaining amount of Rs 65,000 that he had promised to pay within next six months.
The Yogi Adityanath government may have over-hyped its farm loan waiver, but the situation on the ground remains deplorable as loan sharks continue to exploit farmers in the state.
Gyan Chandra, a 45-year-old farmer in Sitapur district, was crushed to death by loan recovery agents on 21 January under the very tractor that he had taken the loan for. Chandra, a resident of Bhauri village, had taken loan of Rs 5 lakh from a private finance firm to buy a tractor.
A father to five daughters, he had managed to pay back Rs 4 lakh till December 2017. Chandra had assured the lenders that he’d pay back the rest of the amount in the next six months. Chandra owned 10 bighas of land.
Om Prakash, Chandra’s brother, told NewsClick that his brother had given Rs 35,000 to the finance firm in the first week of January, but the firm issued a loan recovery notice.
A team of loan recovery agents reached Chandra’s house on 21 January and tried to take away the tractor parked outside their house. They gave an ultimatum to the Dalit farmer that either he pays the rest of the Rs 65,000 immediately or gives up the tractor. Chandra, who had returned on his tractor from a neighbour’s farm, pleaded with the loan recovery agents. To convince them about his ability to pay back the remaining amount, Chandra told the agents that he would pay back the amount by January-end. But the agents did not listen to him and pulled him down from the tractor’s driving seat and tried to snatch the tractor’s keys. Chandra held on to the tractor’s bonnet but the loan recovery agents started the vehicle, dragging the farmer along.
“As the cruel loan recovery agents sped up the tractor, my brother’s hand slipped from the bonnet and he came under the wheels of the very tractor he had struggled so much to buy. The inhuman agents crushed him by that very tractor. My brother died on the spot,” said Om Prakash, breaking down as he recounted the horror on phone.
The loan recovery agents ran away with the tractor, leaving the body of the farmer on the road.
Superintendent of Police Anand Kulkarni told the media that Prakash had submitted a complaint on the basis of which an FIR for culpable homicide had been registered against five people, including recovery agents Amit, Ramji and Sudhir. One of the four agents has been arrested.
Seeing a fellow farmer being killed in such a brutal manner, the farmers of Bhauri village blocked the road with Chandra’s dead body and refused to perform his last rites. After that the district magistrate of Sitapur, Sarika Mohan, visited the village and met Chandra’s family. She announced that the family would be given Rs 5 lakh from Kisan Accident Insurance Scheme, Rs 2 lakh from Chief Minister’s Relief fund, Rs 2 lakh from Mandi Parishad Farmers Insurance Scheme and Rs 30,000 from Rashtriya Parivarik Labh Yojna.
She also said Chandra’s wife Ghayan Devi will be given employment as a cook in school and a house will be given to her family under the Prime Minister Housing Scheme.
However, Prakash questioned how and why was it the case that a farmer attracted the government’s sympathy only after he became a dead body.
“While we are thankful to the government for helping us, I fail to understand as to why a farmer becomes important only after he is dead. Why does the government not make a policy that no loan recovery can be done without approval of the local district administrative and police officers. Why does the state government leave the farmer alone and helpless in dealing with loan sharks and exploitative private finance firms?” he said.
Prakash also wondered why the farmers who took loans from private entities were left out of the scope of the farm loan waivers of the Yogi Adityanath government.
Last September, 954 farmers from the district were given the farm loan waiver certificate.
Prakash said the government needed to bring policy to take action against the exploitation carried out by private finance firms.
“The government needs to regulate the private finance firms which exploit farmers in rural parts of the country, like in my village,” said Prakash.
“The farmers’ exploitation goes unchecked because the government has no policy to check the exploitation practices. Is my brother’s life the first instance of such exploitation? No. This goes on everywhere in the country and governments know all about it. So by being a mute spectator to the exploitation, the governments is responsible for the farmers’ deaths.”
January 26, 2018 at 4:51 pm
The loan recovery team responsible for the death of the farmer should be investigated and punished according to law