Moneylender arrested in Ganjam

Berhampur: A moneylender was arrested at Bhanjanagar in Odisha’s Ganjam district for allegedly giving illegal loans at a high rate of interest to poor locals in the area, police said today.

A Bishnu, a resident of Marathi Sahi in Bhanjanagara, was arrested yesterday for allegedly collecting around Rs 6,000 per month from one Dandapani Nayak of Lalsinghpalli towards interst on a loan of about Rs 50,000 which he had given to latter’s son seven years ago, according to Inspector In-charge of Bhanjanagar police station A K Sahu.

Bishnu’s arrest assumes significance in light of the state government’s recent decision to crack down on illegal private money-lenders who are allegedly forcibly recovering loans with high interest rates from people, especially farmers, across the state.

The state government has asked all its SPs to striclty implement Odisha Money Lenders Act 1939, which regulates moneylending activities. Over 100 farmers have committed suicide in the state in the past three months allegedly due to crop loss and debt burden.

Police are investigating how many people, including farmers, had taken loans from Bishnu at a high interest rate, informed Sahu.

Janardan, who was working in Chennai, reportedly took the loan from Bishnu for some medical treatment seven years ago. Janardan later died in a road accident about four years ago. The money lender, however, continued to recover the loan along with interest every month from Dandapani’s pension. The latter is a retired driver of the Army and is dependant on his pension for survival, police said.

Bishnu allegedly took away Dandapani’s savings passbook and other documents from him by force when he refused to pay the interest, police said. The matter come to light when Dandapani lodged an FIR against Bishnu. The complainant was ignorant about the loan his son had taken from Bishnu, police said.

“During a search, we also recovered a passbook of a savings bank account of a sweeper in Bhanjanagara. The accused had probably lent some money to the sweeper too at a very high interest rate. The matter is under investigation,” the IIC said.