Staff Correspondent

It had seized the tractor from Manjunath after he failed to repay the loan

District administration had formed a committee to look into the circumstances

If proved guilty, amount deposited by bank in a joint account will be paid to Manjunath’s mother

MYSORE: Officials of ICICI Bank handed over the tractor key to the mother of a farmer who had committed suicide after being “harassed” by the recovery agents of the bank, in a meeting convened on Saturday by Jayanna, Headquarters Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner.

H.M. Manjunath, a farmer from Hospura village in Nanjangud taluk had availed of a tractor loan from the bank. He committed suicide on December 4, 2007 due to the alleged “arm-twisting” tactics used by the recovery agents of the bank.

On the intervention of the district administration, the bank returned the tractor it had seized from Manjunath six months ago and it also agreed to close Manjunath’s loan account.

According to his mother Maramma, Manjunath had borrowed Rs. 4.79 lakh from the bank. After paying the first instalment of the loan, he had sought time to repay the other instalments.

However, the recovery agents appointed by ICICI Bank allegedly humiliated Manjunath in public. Manjunath then consumed poison and left behind a note in which he held the officials of the bank responsible for his action.

Protesting against the alleged “harassment” by ICICI Bank and its recovery agents, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Hasiur Sene and other Kannada organisations launched an agitation and forced the officials to close the bank.

The district administration then formed a committee to inquire into the circumstances that led Manjunath to commit suicide.

The farmers’ organisations allowed the bank to function after it agreed to deposit Rs. 10 lakh in a joint account held by Maramma and the district administration and paying the amount to her in case it (the bank) was proved guilty. The bank also agreed to return the tractor and close Majunath’s loan account.

However, the delay by the bank in fulfilling its promises irked the farmers’ organisations who cautioned the district administration of intensifying their agitation. Deputy Commissioner P. Manivannan had then convened a meeting of bank officials and farmers, for which the bank officials arrived late. Mr. Manivannan cautioned the officials and fixed another date for the meeting.

At the meeting on Saturday, the bank officials returned the tractor key and closed Manjunath’s loan account.

However, Mr. Jayanna said that the issue was not closed as the district administration was waiting for the report by the committee.

“If the bank is proved guilty, Rs. 10 lakh deposited by the bank in the joint account will be paid to the mother of the deceased,” he said.