Farmers from several districts of Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region went on an indefinite hunger strikeon Monday at the district headquarters of a rural bank in Banda alleging that the bank management had defrauded them.
President of Bundelkhand Kisan Union, Vimal Kumar Sharma, who was leading the protest, told the media that a farmer’s money from the selling of crops is deposited directly to his savings bank account by the Mandi Samiti. Now, this deposit amount is allegedly being adjusted by the bank officials against the farmer’s loan without even taking their consent.
Kumar further said that the rural bank has been adjusting the funds received through various central government schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) in order to recover the loans.
The union tried to register a First Information Report (FIR) against the bank management but could not do so, Sharma claimed.
Talking about an incident at a bank branch in Mahoba district, Sharma said the money from savings accounts was transferred to the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) loan account without the concerned farmer being informed by the bank.
"We also approached the police to lodge a case in this regard but they are also on the bank's side", Sharma alleged. The press release by the farmers’ union adds that they have started the hunger strike as no investigation was launched even after they approached the Mahoba district magistrate and the police.
One of the participants in the strike, Sitaram Naik from Panwari area of Mahoba district, said that the Mandi Samiti had deposited Rs 2.34 lakh in his savings account but Rs 1 lakh from that money was adjusted by the bank against the outstanding in his KCC account without his approval.
Echoing similar sentiments, Rameshwar, another farmer of Netra village, said that Rs 70,000 has been forcibly deducted from the amount of Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana while Jagmohan said that during lockdown, the bank officials have recovered the loan from his account by deducting Rs 500 of the children's Midday Meal Scheme.
Man Singh, another farmer said that Rs 71,000 were recovered from the government funds of the Khet Talab Scheme. “Now the sword of recovery is hanging while the pond has not been built,” he said.
Several other farmers sitting on the protest also spoke about their specific cases and Sharma has alleged that many more farmers are complaining about similar tactics being adopted against them.
Prem Singh, a farmer leader in Banda, said that the brewing resentment among farmers can be gauged from the fact that they have approached the administration for initiating action against bankers for deducting their money without prior information. Banks have resorted to this practice “to achieve fixed targets” without taking into considerations the hardships being faced by farmers.
“This is open loot by banks as they don’t consult farmers before deducting money from their accounts. We have lodged our protest with the district administration,” Singh said.
(With inputs from PTI)