Angry farmers shut down three branches of ICICI Bank in Mysore on Friday. They were demanding compensation for the family of HM Manjunath, who was driven to death by the bank’s agents trying to recover an installment of a loan he had taken to buy a tractor.
Led by leaders of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, the farmers forced the staff out and locked the bank’s branches. “Goondas hired by this bank came to Hosapura (25 km from Mysore) on December 4, humiliated Manjunath and seized the tractor. The next morning, Manjunath’s body was found on his farm. Why should the bank send these goondas when the notice (that an installment was due in November) reached him on December 3 and even gave him a week’s time for repayment? We want the bank to return the tractor to his family and hand over Rs 25 lakh as compensation,” said Kodihalli Chandrashekar, leader of the farmers’ association.
The farmers will meet on December 18 to draw up the next course of action. “This is one case which has come to light. There are many others that are not reported because they occur in remote areas. The staff of this bank has constantly harassed farmers though courts have cautioned against strong-arm tactics,” said Shantakumar, another farmer leader.
Concerned over harassment by recovery agents engaged by the banks, the Reserve Bank of India, had last month issued a ten-point guideline to all banks.
The RBI in its guidelines said banks should inform the borrower of details about recovery agents and the agents must not call the borrower at odd hours or harass him either verbally or physically. Each bank should have a mechanism whereby the borrowers’ grievances with regard to the recovery process can be addressed, it added.