* Krishna Gautam (41) of Ajwa road, is allegedly being harassed by a private money lender since last year to repay Rs 1 crore for a Rs 50,000 loan he took for his ailing wife
* Jhulekha Saiyyed (47) sold her house and paid Rs 5 lakh for a loan of Rs 2 lakh, even as the money lender from her locality allegedly continued to harass her family
Gautam and Saiyyed were among the 33 people who submitted applications against the private money lenders at the city’s first ‘Lok Darbar’ organised by Vadodara police on Thursday to fight the menace.
In Gautam’s case, however, an FIR was immediately filed against the money lender who had allegedly been demanding Rs 1 crore, including interest, for the
Rs 50,000 loan he had taken four years ago for the treatment of his ailing wife.
Gautam said he had been paying Rs 3,500 every month for the last three years and so far he has already paid Rs 1,26,000.
“He has seized my property papers and taken three blank cheques. Every month he comes home along with four heavily-built men and threatens me and my family of dire consequences,” Gautam said.
Commissioner of Police Anupamsinh Gahlaut, who was present at the darbar, immediately ordered the concerned Panigate police to file an FIR in the case.
Apart from Gahlaut, joint commissioner of police, DCP Zone 4, inspectors, sub-inspectors and others from six police stations that fall under the zone, were present at the darbar.
A public announcement regarding the darbar was being done for the last one week. It was during this time Saiyyed heard about the session.
Saiyyed claimed that she had taken the loan of Rs 2 lakh at an interest rate of 20% per annum five years ago for the treatment of her daughter who had suffered from kidney failure. “Within two years, the money lender had started harassing my family. I had then started paying her the money. I sold my house and paid her Rs 5 lakh, but she wanted Rs 2 lakh more. My husband is an auto rickshaw driver and only earning member. She (money lender) has even filed a complaint against us stating that we have not returned any money. For the last three years the case is in court. This is both mental and financial torture,” she said.
All the complainants and applicants have been assured of action within a week.
Meanwhile, police personnel were sensitised about relevant IPC sections in the last 15 days. While the Prevention of Money- Laundering Act guarantees three years of imprisonment, which is bailable, additional IPC sections pertaining to criminal intimidation and extortion can account for more punishment.
“We have been receiving complaints about extortion by money lenders. But, people are also scared to approach the police because they are threatened. This public meeting has been organised to break the ice between the public and police. A lot of people are forced to sell their properties to meet the demands of these money lenders,” Gahlaut said.
According to the police, they have been receiving 20-25 such complainants every month. The police have identified around 40 money lenders in the city.
In the upcoming ‘Lok Darbars’, the police also plans to sensitise people regarding alternatives to taking loans from private money lenders like government schemes.