Microfinancers accused of assault
Representatives of a private micro-finance company were charged with abusing, threatening and attempting to assault a borrower, S. Arjunan, who runs a tea shop here on Monday.
A fight between Arjunan, 46, and the representatives led to hot water spilling over Arjunan’s daughter, Srivardhini. The minor girl was admitted to the public hospital with burns to her head and face.
According to Arjunan’s wife, Kalaimathi, 37, she had been quick to repay her loan until the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to the tea shop closing in March. “Like all the other borrowers, I have also not repaid the loan in the meantime, in line with the government’s moratorium on repayment,” she said.
After the lenders kept calling, Kalaimathi gave ₹1,300 to her eldest daughter to hand over to an employee of the finance company. “After taking the money, they had threatened my daughter with action if the balance of ₹650 was not immediately paid,” she said.
Even after the December installment was paid, they insisted that the borrower immediately pay the January installment. “When my husband questioned them for threatening my daughter, five of them came to the store and started abusing us. They assaulted him as well,” she said.
Alleging that in the fight they pushed boiling water and it splashed in the girl’s face. “Even though she was screaming with burns, they wanted to go after my husband,” she complained.
Officials from the All India Democratic Women’s Association, Mythili and Mary, met with them on Tuesday. They raised the issue with the local police.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) City Secretary, B. Mariappan, said the “upper hand” of micro-finance lenders was very high during the COVID-19 lockdown. “Even though poor borrowers were suffering from the foreclosure, lenders were trying to twist their arm,” he said.