The "name and shame" policy adopted by nationalised banks to recover debts has invited a sharp reaction from the farming community.
Major public-sector banks have started making loan defaulters and their bank guarantors public with their names and photographs displayed prominently at their respective branches.
Farmers said the policy was a grave social stigma and would jeopardise lives of loanee and their families.
Terming it as a tool to hurt the honour of villagers, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) has demand a ban on the scheme to save farmers from taking their lives.
"We are not supporting the issue of habitual non-payment of loans but the people particularly the rural population is very sensitive for their family honour. It is the anti-poor policies of center and the state that have made farmers unable to repay the loans taken from various banks," says Gurnam Singh Chaduni, the BKU's state president.
He demanded the immediate rationalisation of minimum support price (MSP) of wheat and paddy in a practical manner to empower the farmers.
Quoting the information secured by the BKU right to information (RTI) from the center and the Haryana government, Chaduni said that in 2012-13 cost of wheat production was 1613/quintal while the MSP was fixed at Rs. 1350/quintal.
Similarly, for the current financial year the cost of paddy production was calculated by the government agencies at Rs. 1757/quintal, pearl millet or bajra (Rs 1315) and maize (Rs 1654).
"But the government has announced the MSP as Rs. 1310 for paddy, Rs. 1250 for bajra and Rs. 1310 for maize. So, farmers are bound to get less than the cost of production," he said.
Chaduni said that the BKU was demanding the implementation of MS Swaminathan report that had recommended 50% more price of the cost incurred on production of crops.
"The report which will change the face of Indian farming sector is pending with the center government for unsaid reasons. If the government does want the farmers to lead to a respectable life of profitability, then it must allow them to sell their body organs to repay their bank loans," he said.
A farmer activist from Shahabad Rakesh Kumar Bains said that such a practice was unacceptable and the center should intervene in it.
"Banks always have the papers of land or other asset against which loan is given to farmer. In case of non-payment, bank should file a civil suit and auction the mortgaged asset to recover the amount but publishing names and photographs at the public place is against the basic principle of personal dignity," said Bains.
However, banks said that the name and shame was introduced just to get the money of investors back from the loanees and not harass anyone.
If the loans are cleared after the "name and shame" step, the banks are initiating legal proceedings.
"All banks are offering negotiations with the defaulting farmers and bank gurantors to settle the loan cases and it is giving results. It is wrong to say that banks are hurting the individuals but it is a simple formula to recover the money which was deposited by the account holders in banks," said assistant general manager of State Bank of India KS Badgujar.