BJP minister’s group used our papers to get loans for themselves, allege farmers in Maharashtra
So far, one farmer, Gajanan Birajdar, has sent a written complaint to the Lokayukta about a Rs3-lakh loan taken in his name from the Union Bank of Indiamumbai Updated: Aug 08, 2017 10:41 IST
After state housing minister Prakash Mehta faced graft allegations, another BJP minister Subhash Deshmukh is in a spot. Solapur-based Lokmangal Group, a conglomerate, which was founded by the state cooperation minister, has been accused of misusing farmers’ documents to take loans in their names.
A handful of farmers in the district have alleged that two subsidiaries of the Lokmangal Group — Lokmangal Agro Industries Pvt Limited and Lokmangal Sugar Ethanol & Cogeneration India Ltd — used documents of farmers without their permission to obtain loans in their names from banks. Farmers and activists staged a protest in Solapur against the group on Monday.
Despite several attempts, Deshmukh could not be reached for comment. His son Manish, a director of Lokmangal Agro Industries, also did not respond to several calls and text messages from HT.
Last month, Gajanan Birajdar, a farmer from Solapur’s Kusur taluka, filed a complaint with the Lokayukta, alleging that Lokmangal Sugar and the Union Bank of India committed a financial fraud by misusing his documents. He alleged that the company got a loan of Rs3 lakh in his name.
Birajdar said Lokmangal Bank had loaned him a small amount and he was a member of Lokmangal Sugar, which is why the group had his documents.
The farmer wrote in the letter, a copy of which is with HT, “I have never been to the Union Bank of India’s Kasarvadi branch in Pune. I have never demanded or taken a loan from this bank. But when I went to other banks in Solapur to get a loan, a private bank checked my credit ratings. That is when I found out that I was a debtor to the Union Bank of India.”
Along with the Lokayukta, the farmer also addressed the letter to the director general of police, the Reserve Bank of India and the Solapur district collector.
He added that when he inquired about the loan, Lokmangal Sugar repaid it with interest and the bank sent him a letter saying there were no dues in his name.
Birajdar wrote that senior authorities of Lokmangal requested him to keep silent on the issue and also tried to put political pressure on him.
Speaking to HT, Birajdar said, “From my point of view, the matter is over. Lokmangal used my documents and took a loan in my name. I questioned the authorities and they repaid the loan. I only complained so that this doesn’t happen again to anyone else.”
Similarly, Mahadev Bapu Maske, a farm labourer from Indapur village in Barshi taluka of Solapur received a letter from Dena Bank on July 23 , a copy of which is with HT, saying he has defaulted on a loan of Rs15 lakh taken from Lokmangal Agro Industries.
The letter, which was also marked to Lokmangal Agro Industries, said the loan was taken in 2015-16 and the bank expected the payment to be made before June 2016. The bank asked Maske to pay Rs19.14 lakh, which included the principal amount and the interest, immediately or face action.
Maske told HT, “I am just a labourer and not even a member of Lokmangal. I don’t own even an inch of land. I only visited the Lokmangal factory once for labour. I had not even heard of Dena Bank before this and have no idea where it is to even visit it and figure out what has happened. The notice caused me so much stress that I fell ill.”
Local Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Basavaraj Bagle who participated in Monday’s protest, said, “So far 15-20 such cases have come up but there are hundreds more that we are examining.”