As the state government delays the disbursement and execution of farm loan waivers, farmers in several areas of Karnataka have started receiving arrest warrants from the banks. As per reports, several banks are yet to receive the funds and as a result, have started approaching courts and send arrest warrants against defaulting farmers.
On Sunday, a major agitation has stirred up in Belgavi district as farmers in many Taluks reportedly received arrest warrants by a Kolkata magistrate court, for defaulting on their loans taken from Axis bank limited. The court has charged the farmers under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and has reportedly directed the local police to produce them in Kolkata by February 18, 2019.
Reports say that while some nationalised banks have filed recovery suits, private banks have gone to the extent of filing criminal cases against the defaulting farmers. In Belgavi alone, approximately 160 farmers have had recovery suits filed against them while 62 have received arrest warrants.
As discontent and agitation grows in the state, the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene have announced that they will gherao the Vidhana Soudha on November 19. A report in Times of India has stated that the Karnataka Sugarcane growers association is also likely to join the protests.
Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy has taken a note and has reportedly stated that the farmers eligible for waivers need not worry. He has also reportedly directed the deputy commissioners and district police superintendents to be helpful towards farmers. However, the state finance department has warned that only crop loans are eligible for a waiver and not other kinds of loans. The state finance department has further stated that the government is committed to waive off crop loans up to 2 lakhs in scheduled and commercial banks and up to 1 lakh in cooperative banks.
Chamasara Patil, the honourary president of the state farmer’s body KRRS, reportedly stated that it is six months since the government announced waivers but it is far from being implemented. He added that in his first meeting with farmers, CM Kumaraswamy had promised that the loans will be waived in 2 phases, first for crop loans and then the other loans.
It is notable here that after the dramatic political events in May, when Kumaraswamy came to power after a post-poll alliance between Congress and JDS, their demand for farm loan waivers had intensified since all leading parties had sought votes over the promise. Kumaraswamy had announced that he cannot declare a waiver without the express support of Congress as Congress held more seats.
Interestingly, Rahul Gandhi just a few days ago on 15th October had asserted that they had delivered on their promise of waivering farmer loans in Karnataka within 10 days of coming to power and they would do the same in Madhya Pradesh.
— Congress (@INCIndia) October 15, 2018
The failure of the government in the speedy implementation of the process was also reported in July. Weeks after the announcement of the waivers, the state government had not yet begun disbursements to banks and it was predicted that it might cause trouble for the farmers. Even the banks had not received clear guidelines about the loan waivers from the government.