Gyan Chandra, 45, had borrowed money from a private company, L&T finance, a few years ago. He had to deposit about Rs 1,25,000 of the total amount to clear his loan. He had already paid Rs 35,000 earlier this month and was only a few weeks late to repay the entire amount. The company is yet comment on the incident.
But two days ago, about five recovery agents showed up to take away his tractor. He was working on the fields in his village in Sitapur, about 100 km from Lucknow, when the agents demanded his tractor's keys.
"We had deposited Rs 35,000 on January 10. My brother promised to pay the remaining amount soon. But they didn't pay heed and snatched the keys. When they were driving away, one of the men pushed my brother and he fell in front of the tractor. He was crushed to death in front of our eyes," said Chandra's brother, Om Prakash.
The police have registered a case of murder and said the accused will soon be arrested.
Chandra had about 2.5 acres of land, but it was not enough to feed a family of seven, including five daughters, one of whom has speech and hearing difficulties. He worked on fields of affluent farmers to make some extra money.
Small farmers in UP are caught in a vicious cycle of loans at exorbitant interest rates. Last year, the Yogi Adityanath government had announced a massive loan waiver scheme for small and marginal farmers, and said it would help at least 87 lakh farmers in the state. But the scheme was limited to loans up to Rs 1 lakh taken from government lenders.
According to government data crunched by the portal India Spend, institutional agencies, such as commercial banks, regional rural banks, and insurance companies, held 56 per cent of rural debt in India in 2013, while non-institutional agencies, which include money lenders, family or friends, held the remaining 44 per cent. Professional money lenders held the maximum share of rural debt (28.2 per cent), revealing that rural households still depend on local moneylenders for easy credit.
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