Friday, May 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No arrest to force loan recovery
Punjab takes pro-farmer stance
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 16
In an endeavour to dispel the Opposition propaganda that the “Congress is an anti-farmer political outfit”, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has directed that no farmer should be harassed or arrested for the recovery of both short-term and long-term loans.

Capt Amarinder Singh made it clear that “recoveries, if any, have to be made by resorting to legal recourse as provided under the Act. But in no circumstances, coercive methods, such as arrests, parading of arrested farmers or humiliating them publicly will be permitted.”

“Arrests were regularly made to effect recoveries during the SAD-BJP regime also. Compared to 125 arrests made during the 2001 rabi season, the number of defaulting farmers arrested by the field staff of the Cooperative department during the current rabi season was 120,” a spokesman of the department said.

Meanwhile, the Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Mr A.R. Talwar, issued instructions today to his field staff against making any arrest in the future and also ordered the release of those arrested.

Mr Talwar said that 120 farmers were arrested throughout the state during the 2002 rabi season for making recovery of long-term loans advanced to them by Punjab agricultural development banks as against 125 such defaulters being arrested during the same season last year. Of these , 47 were released on May 14 as either recoveries had been made from them or they produced sureties.

Those arrested this time were mostly big and regular defaulters, who had not cleared their dues for the past two to seven years. “The remaining 73 farmers, too, will be released immediately,” Mr Talwar said maintaining that not even a single arrest was made by the field staff for effecting the recovery of short-term loans. Most of the arrests were made in the Ferozepore division, especially in the Mansa, Jalalabad and Bathinda areas.

The issue also figured prominently at a press conference addressed by the Chief Minister at Punjab Bhavan yesterday where he said that no farmer would be harassed or arrested to effect recovery from him.

In some cases, he admitted, because of personal vendetta, farmers were not only arrested but also paraded through bazars. Feeling humiliated, in certain cases these farmers were forced to commit suicide. “We will not allow any such thing to happen,” he said, instructing the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, that his directions on the issue should be strictly followed.

The instructions issued today made it clear to all Deputy Registrars, Cooperative Societies, to release the farmers arrested due to default in the payment of loan instalments. The instructions have been issued in view of the financial position of farmers and the state government’s policy to effect the recovery of cooperative dues through legal methods.

Cooperative banks in the state advance Rs 2,000 crore every year for meeting the short-term credit requirements of farmers. Similarly, an advance of Rs 350 crore is made annually for meeting the long-term requirements of farmers. The money is advanced by the cooperative banks after borrowing it from NABARD at a concessional rate of interest.


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