According to a report on The Indian Express, banks in Punjab have started filing criminal cases against farmers for non-repayment of loans. The farmers, on the other hand, claim that they were made to sign on blank cheques.
Buta Singh Burjgill, president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakunda faction), claimed that in the past 12 months, “thousands of farmers” have been issued legal notices by banks by using the blank cheques they got farmers to sign on at the time of granting crop loans. “These days, banks have been taking triple securities from farmers — pledging of land, signing by a guarantor and blank/post-dated cheques – while the RBI has asked banks to extend collateral-free agricultural loans of up to Rs one lakh. That limit has been raised to Rs 1.6 lakh in the Interim Budget,” he said.
An unnamed public sector banker was mentioned in the report admitting to the practice of obtaining blank cheques as security for farm loans. He blamed it on the loan waiver scheme of the Punjab government and its decision to ban the auction of mortgaged land to recover loans. “What is happening is unfortunate. But if loans are waived and kukri is not allowed, and the government also wants us to lend more to farmers, what are we supposed to do?” he was quoted as saying.
Despite the Congress President’s professed love for farmers, it appears farmers are not doing very well in Congress-ruled states. Apart from Punjab where farmers face the possibility of arrest, in Karnataka, despite Rahul Gandhi’s fantastical claims, the state government had itself admitted that the Rs 44,000 crore loan waiver had helped only 800 farmers in the state. Defaulting farmers there faced the possibility of arrest as well.
In Madhya Pradesh as well, the loan waiver promised by the Congress party had numerous terms and conditions which made many farmers ineligible for it. Reportedly, a massive loan-waive scam has also been brewing in the state of Madhya Pradesh after reports emerged that various beneficiaries listed by the government eligible for farmer loan waiver did not even exist in reality. Many discrepancies and irregularities are already being unearthed in the loan waiver schemes. Moreover, there have reports of incidents where farmers have gotten a loan waiver of as little as 13 rupees against a loan of Rs. 24000 and Rs. 25-30 against loans of Rs. 1 lakh or more.
The Congress governments in both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are facing severe outrage from the farmers within weeks of their government formation, as both governments in the respective states had created a crisis by mismanaging the supply of urea.
Despite Rahul Gandhi’s bravado, it appears that farmers are suffering immensely in Congress regimes.