THE All India Kisan Sabha, in a statement issued on October 25, has expressed shock at the incident of a family of four immolating themselves outside the Tirunelveli Collectorate in Tamil Nadu due to the harassment of loan sharks and total insensitivity of the authorities to their request for redressal of the problem. Isakimuthu, a daily wage labourer along with his wife and two kids immolated themselves on October 23, 2017. AIKS demands strong deterrent action against the moneylenders and the erring authorities.
According to reports Isakimuthu, hailing from Kasidharmam village in Tirunelveli district had borrowed Rs 1,40,000 from two moneylenders in the neighbourhood, Muthulakshmi and Ganapathiraj. A monthly interest of 10 per cent of the total amount was charged till the time the principal was paid back. This illegal practice commonly known as 'kandhu vatti' that has a pervasive presence across Tamil Nadu is an extortion racket in which exorbitant interest rates are charged costing borrowers many times the original loan amount. Many cases of farmers killing themselves following harassment over loans they have taken and families losing their homes and lands when unable to pay exorbitant interest rates have been reported in the state. In this case, Isakimuthu and his wife had paid over Rs 2 lakh as interest already, but were still being subjected to constant harassment. The moneylenders would allegedly threaten the couple at their residence, and abuse them in front of their children. Request for intervention by authorities went unheeded.
AIKS condemns the total inaction of Tamil Nadu state government against loan sharks who have been harassing the farmers, agricultural labourers, workers and the poor. The threats, intimidation, physical assaults and humiliation have been a major factor leading to suicides by the indebted. This phenomenon is seen across different states in India and the fact that institutional credit is inaccessible to large sections is leading to increasing exploitation by usurious moneylenders. Even certain religious institutions and groups in the name of micro-financing have also been harassing the poor. AIKS demands strong deterrent action against the moneylenders responsible for this incident and a legislation to put an end to loan sharks and extortion in the name of money lending. AIKS demands a judicial enquiry into the role of private moneylenders, micro-finance institutions and loan sharks.