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Ramakanta Biswas

Angul: A local businessman-cum-money lender has allegedly collected over Rs 25 lakh as interest from a school teacher after giving him a loan of Rs 5 lakh.

The loan shark, Sunil Agarwal, who happens to be the relative of an senior IAS officer and former Collector, was recently arrested for allegedly collecting extortionate rate of interest from the high school teacher, Bansidhar Deuri.

Deuri, who hails from Bagadia area under Chendipada police limits had reportedly taken Rs 5 lakh loan from Sunil three years back at an interest rate of 3 per cent per annum. However, over the years, the lender multiplied the interest amount and forced Deuri to repay more than Rs 25 lakh.

The hapless teacher's miseries did not end there. Sunil allegedly demanded more interest and under pressure the teacher had to take loan of Rs 2 lakh on annual 4 per cent interest from another money lender, Lalmohan. However, Sunil allegedly demanded more than Rs 15 lakh and forced Deurito put his signature on a piece of paper.

Fed up with the harassment, Deuri's daughter lodged a complaint at the Sadar police station recently and the accused was arrested. However, he was released on bail soon after. On the other hand, Lalmohan and his associate are absconding after the arrest of Sunil and manhunt by police is on to nab them.

Angul SP Jagmohan Meena said, "We have registered a case under Orissa Money -Lenders (Amendment) Act and one person has been arrested and forwarded to court. Two others are absconding and efforts are on to nab them."

According to sources, harassment by Sunil is not new. He has allegedly grabbed about 300 acres of land of innocent farmers in Kusasingha and its nearby areas in Banarpal Tehsil of Angul district. He allegedly carried out the fraud in the last 10 years with the help of the district administration, Congress party had earlier alleged.

Sunil was also accused of involving in fraud during his stint as a contractor in the civil supplies department and was removed from the job following the allegations. However, the accused refuted all the allegations against him.

"Does he (teacher) have any proof that I have collected interest from him. But I have the proof of giving him loan. I have court affidavit and cheques issued by him. I had given him the loan for registering a piece of land," said Sunil.

Saroj Pradhan, RTI activist said, "Two IAS officers are playing the main roles in the fraud and helping the accused. Under their patronage, the accused is carrying out such illegal activities. A special investigation team (SIT) should be formed to probe the matter thoroughly."

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