The city and rural police seized about Rs. 94.8 lakh from suspected illegal moneylenders in the district under Operation Kubera. Blank cheques, land documents and large amounts of money were seized from loan sharks all over the district in the State-wide operation that began on May 11.

The Ernakulam Rural police seized Rs. 55.92 lakh during the special drive. Almost 1,000 raids were conducted across the district by the rural and city police and 133 cases were registered against illegal moneylenders last month.

Police also arrested 103 persons on the charge of lending money at high interest rates. The numbers were published by the police in a report on the special drive in the Ernakulam range. The report was released by Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala at a workshop on strategies to deal with the ‘blade’ mafia held in Kochi on Friday.

“People go to illegal moneylenders usually when there is some emergency and they need money quickly. Loan sharks exploit this desperation by charging exorbitant interest rates and taking the person’s land deeds or getting blank cheques from them,” said a police officer. Police seized 465 cheques from lenders in the district under the special drive.

When the person is unable to repay the money, the ‘blade’ mafia threatens the borrower using thugs and seizes their land or movable property.

The police’s focus so far has been on curbing the criminal activities of illegal moneylenders and breaking their nexus with goonda gangs.

“Operation Kubera deals with the criminal side of illegal moneylending. The other side of the problem can be addressed with mechanisms like the Janamaithri police,” said South Zone Additional Director General of Police K. Padmakumar.

The government also aims at promoting alternative moneylending machinery like the Kudumbasree mission. “Kudumbasree is called a 24X7 bank because members can borrow up to Rs. 5,000 in internal loans immediately. This can help families a great deal in case a child falls sick and they need money quickly. These are the situations in which people usually approach loan sharks,” said Tany Thomas, district coordinator of the Kudumbasree mission.

More In: Kerala | National