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Abhirami's suicide: Satheesan asks govt. to rein in banks

State government blames Centre's SARFAESI Act

September 21, 2022 06:32 pm | Updated 06:32 pm IST

Leader of Opposition V. D. Satheesan urged the government to rein in banks from recovering housing loans by naming and shaming broke defaulters laid low by the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.

In a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Mr. Satheesan spotlighted the suspected suicide of Abhirami, a second-year degree student hailing from Sasthamkottai in Kollam.

The State government-owned Kerala Bank had extended a housing loan to Abhirami's parents. However, her father could not meet the mortgage after the pandemic cost him his job in the Gulf.

The Kerala Bank authorities pasted a recovery notice outside Abhirami's newly constructed house in full public view.

Mr. Satheesan said embarrassment reportedly prompted Abhirami to take her own life. He said thousands of people across Kerala faced the same predicament due to loss of livelihood during COVID-19. The government had not moved a little finger to help them.

Mr. Satheesan said thousands of families across Kerala faced Abhirami's predicament. Many were on the precipice of suicide, unable to repay housing loans. The threat of eviction hung like a Damocles sword over their heads.

Cooperation Minister V. N. Vasavan said the government was sympathetic to Abhirami's family. He demanded a police investigation into her death.

Mr. Vasavan shifted the blame to the Central government for the situation.

He said the SARFAESI Act allowed banks and financial institutions to auction the assets of credit defaulters without having to move the court. RBI rules and the Central legislation bound Kerala Bank. It had no other recourse but to recover and auction property of non-repayers.

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