To crack down on goons employed by banks and finance firms as loan recovery agents, the police will soon launch an ad campaign urging people to lodge complaints if they are subjected to harassment by such characters.
The police have found that most people who suffer at the hands of these agents do not report and file complaints. As a result, these recovery agents seldom get caught.
"We expect bank and finance companies to work within the framework of law. People who have been victims should report the matter so that we can take necessary action against them," said Rajan Bhagat, spokesperson, Delhi Police.
There have been numerous instances in the past in which recovery agents not only harassed people, but also abducted, looted and drove them into committing suicide. In 2005, a man committed suicide in his Sriniwaspuri home after loan recovery agents made his life miserable. He had failed to pay an installment on a loan that he had taken to buy a motorcycle. In July last year, a 61-year-old woman was abducted and her car snatched away from near the AIIMS flyover by musclemen working for a bank.
Another incident in Mumbai was the most telling: after being mentally tortured by recovery agents, Prakash Sarvankar, a resident of Andheri (East) hanged himself. Ten days later the bank agreed to pay his wife Rs 15.5 lakh as compensation.
Most people who have been harassed don't register complaints fearing that their defaulter status would land them in more trouble. "These people know that they are defaulters, so they think they will also get into trouble if they report the matter. Advertising is a good way of reaching out to people telling them that such practices are criminal," said a senior police officer.