Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Monday asked the victims of call money scandal not to repay their dues. “Don’t be afraid of call money organisers. Nirbhaya Act will be slapped on them if they harass borrowers,” he said.
For the record, micro-finance companies collect exorbitant interest rates, and, in some cases, it crosses even 50 per cent. “As Leader of the Opposition a few years ago, I had asked the victims of micro-finance companies not to pay dues,” Mr. Naidu recalled.
Talking tough, the Chief Minister said activities such as supply of spurious liquor and call money racket would bring disgrace to the government. The focus would now be on the new capital. Incidents like these would tarnish the image of the capital city. The Collector and police should nip them in the bud, he said.
Asking officials to act tough on “anti-social elements”, Mr. Naidu said prevention was better than doing a post-mortem. “Think out of the box and make sure these incidents do not recur. Take a demonstrative action that will send signals to wrongdoers that the government will not tolerate and spare them,” he added.
“I am very clear on this. Don’t excuse and don’t be lenient to any person, however big he may be. Else, they will take it as our weakness. And, it gives scope for rise of anti social elements,” he said.
Indirectly referring to the previous government, Mr. Naidu further asked officials to probe whether these “illegal businesses were inherited.”
Incidentally, it came to light on Monday that women gangs, too, were involved in the racket. Also, the number of victims approaching police is going up by the day.
Meanwhile, the Opposition and Left parties are mounting pressure on the TDP government, demanding that it take action against party leaders who are behind the scandal.Jagan calls for inquiry
The YSRC has demanded that the government order an inquiry by a sitting High Court judge into the racket. Party president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy said the inquiry should bring out the facts pertaining to the involvement of the ruling party MLAs and Ministers. “Steps should be initiated to recover the entire money collected by those involved in the racket and repaid to gullible people who were forced to cough up huge amounts,” he said.
Mr. Jagan alleged that the Chief Minister was trying to dilute the case by forcing officials to implicate leaders of other political parties in the episode.