Most people suffer such hurt and humiliation in silence, writes G. Anand

Private banks and finance companies in the city are continuing to employ anti-social elements for confiscating vehicles from owners who default loan repayments, despite the Supreme Court deploring the crude practice a week ago. The apex court had insisted that recovery of loans should be only through legal means.

Threats

However, a significant number of people, who fail to repay vehicle and home-appliance loans in time continue to endure beatings, public insults and threats from musclemen on the payroll of private financiers.

Most suffer such hurt and humiliation in silence. The few who dare to make a police complaint get little assistance from law enforcers, a human rights lawyer said.

Last week, Vishnu, 24, his wife, Lakshmi Prabhakaran, and their six-month-old infant were injured when a Goondukadu colony-based gang confiscated their car after beating them up. The incident occurred in front of a private hospital at Gowreesapattom at 1 p.m. The couple had been to the hospital to vaccinate their child.

The car was a gift from Mr. Vishnu's father-in-law, the police said. The loan repayment got delayed when his father-in-law, Prabhakaran, died. Mr. Vishnu told the police that he had met the manager of the private bank and assured him that the remaining amount would be remitted once the family got Prabhakaran's service benefits.

Mr. Vishnu said the gang members asked him to speak to the bank manager on their cellphone.

The manager "told" Mr. Vishnu to hand the car over to the "musclemen." When the youth refused, the gang members hauled the family out of the car and beat them up. The infant, who was in its mother's arms, fell on the road. The youths decamped with the car, Mr. Vishnu's gold chain and Rs.4,800 in cash, which was in his wife's purse.

Sub-Inspector (Medical College) V.G. Jayachandran said a dacoity case had been registered against six persons, including Venkatesh, manager of the private bank .

The other accused are `Swarna Pallan' Jeevan, Abhilash alias Abhi, Freddi, J.P alias Jayaprakash and Sanoj, all members of the Goondukadu gang.

Mr. Jayachandran said they were accused in several other cases in the city, including assault, attempt to murder and extortion. Private banks regularly employed criminal gangs based in Puthenpalam, Kazhakuttam, Vanchiyoor, Sreekanteswaram and Maruthankuzhy for recovering loans, said the police. Bank officials confiscating property bought on credit without serving notice to the owners and the police will be prosecuted, a senior official said.

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