Coimbatore

Pregnant woman’s locked bank account opened on humanitarian grounds in Krishnagiri

Sujatha from Krishnagiri.

Sujatha from Krishnagiri.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The account had been locked for an outstanding self-help group loan

A pregnant woman’s bank account was locked and later opened on humanitarian grounds for an outstanding self-help group (SHG) loan the woman claimed she was unaware of.

The woman, Sujatha of Arasampatty Gandhipuram village in Pochampalli, had gone to the Barur Indian Bank to withdraw the first instalment of the Muthulakshmi Reddy maternity benefit assistance of ₹4,000 from her account. However, the bank had reported her account as locked for an outstanding loan with the Pochampally Indian Bank. Sujatha had then visited Pochampalli Indian Bank, where she was shown documents that belonged to an SHG, of which she was purportedly a member along with her affidavits.

The SHG, called Mullangi, had borrowed a loan, and the loan documents had the signature along with the photograph and Aadhar copy of Sujatha. According to Sujatha’s accounts, she was not part of any SHG, but recollected having given her photograph and Aadhar copy to a woman running an SHG in her village three years ago for a loan. “But, the woman returned the photograph along with the Aadhar copy stating that the loan was not available. I have not been part of any SHG,” Sujatha said.

She came in for a rude shock on Monday, when she visited the bank to withdraw cash transferred under the maternity benefit scheme of the State government for pregnant women. “My account was dormant since it had no money or transactions at all. Now, since the maternity benefit money was deposited, I came to withdraw it because my daughter had fallen ill,” she said. That was when the bank had asked her to clear up the loan.

Shocked by the revelation, Sujatha’s husband doused himself in kerosene and threatened suicide alleging false claims by the bank.

When contacted about the rights of the bank to lock an account for a collective loan of an SHG, G. Baskar, Lead Bank Manager, Indian Bank said, banks could use a ‘lean clause’ to lock an account, since SHG loans do not demand collateral security. “The members of the SHG are jointly and severally liable and the repayment and fiscal responsibility of the group is based on peer pressure. It is possible that the loan taken by the group was shared between a few members. However, all the members of the group had signed the documents and the supporting documents were shown to them,” said Mr. Baskar.

The manager the account was released open on humanitarian grounds later. Sujatha and her husband, both daily wage labourers, have demanded that they be released from the loan they never took. “I also appeal to the public to be careful of their documents and not to blindly trust people with their photographs and Aadhar copy.”

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 6:28:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/pregnant-womans-locked-bank-account-opened-on-humanitarian-grounds-in-krishnagiri/article30503111.ece

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