‘Operation Kuberan,’ the police’s crackdown on loan sharks and illegal moneylending businesses, is revealing quite a few unpleasant truths.
On one side, officials supervising the drive, which has seen 58 cases being registered within Thiruvananthapuram limits and nearly 20 arrests, say that the roots of the illegal moneylending business are running deep in the city with literally every second person going in for a loan.
There are middleclass people, a senior police official says, who have taken loans to purchase high-end gadgets, ranging from smart-phones to laptops, for their children. With schools set to reopen in a couple of weeks, such loans will see a jump.
The drive has brought in information, through calls and complaints received by the nodal police officer appointed for the city, on several hundreds of moneylenders, apart from the known names and big loan sharks, sources say.
“The next one to two months is going to be crucial, since these players know that there will be many people wanting loans during this period, and since the police is out on the streets on such a drive, they will be devising new methods to carry on their illegal business,” P. Bijoy, Assistant Commissioner (Control Room), nodal officer for the city, told The Hindu.
On the other hand, Operation Kuberan, is giving the police a few challenging moments. There has been an overwhelming response from the public, Mr. Bijoy says, with several hundreds calling in to give information on illegal moneylenders in the first few days of the appointment of the nodal officer. The officer, depending on the area, is forwarding the information to respective police stations for a preliminary investigation on the veracity of the complaint. And that, Mr. Bijoy says, reveals that at least 10 out of every 50 calls, most of them anonymous, are attempts to trap others, and in turn, avoid repayment of loans. In one case, there was a call from the Gulf, with the complainant naming one person as harassing him for money.
Investigation revealed that the ‘accused’ had entrusted the so-called complainant to sell his car, and the latter, after selling the car, had left the State without handing over the money.
His attempt was to portray the other person’s attempts to get his money as ‘pressure from a loan shark to repay debt.’