Tamil Nadu

Man killed for defaulting on loan in Krishnagiri, family alleges usury

Brinda, wife of Balaji, petitioned the Collector seeking support after her husband was murdered   | Photo Credit: BASHKARAN N

The family of a man, who was killed on Saturday for allegedly defaulting on the repayment of ₹33 lakh, “borrowed at 10% interest” rate, has sought action against the practice of usury.

Police had informed B. Brinda, of her husband Balaji’s murder by a man, Raghuram, hours after she was taken to the Hudco Station on Saturday. However, police say Raghuram himself was in dire straits and had no backing of any usurious gang.

According to Balaji’s father Ramasamy, on Saturday morning, he had received a call from Balaji, who was at Raghuram’s house. He put Raghuram on the phone and asked his father to intervene asking for more time to settle the loan. “I asked Raghuram to wait till Monday. He kept repeating, ‘your son is lying’. Then I only heard a commotion followed by a ‘sit down’ thrice. The call was then disconnected,” says Mr Ramasamy.

The family claimed that Balaji was held captive in his own unit in March by Raghuram, who too was under pressure from his creditors. In April, Raghuram brought his pregnant wife, who is due this August to insist on the repayment. “The wife said she would hang herself if we did not pay up, because they too were under pressure,” says Ms. Brinda.

Raghuram, a collection agent at a private finance firm had come into contact with Balaji, when the latter had sought funds to repay his previous borrowings. The COVID-19 lockdown had led to delayed payments by vendors, forcing losses upon Balaji’s small scale unit, says Ms Brinda.

On Monday, Ms. Brinda along with Hosur Small and Tiny Industries Association (HOSTIA) president K. Velmurugan, met Collector Dr. V. Jayachandra Bhanu Reddy seeking support for the family with a job for the wife and a solatium. They also demanded action against usurious money-lending.

However, the Hosur police’s FIR does not mention usury.

Deputy Superintendent of Police C. Murali insisted this was a case of murder over a loan default to a dire creditor, and not usury. But, asked if a 10% rate of interest would not technically qualify as ‘usury’, the DSP said: “A usurer has backing and the wherewithal to threaten. Raghuram lives in a 10-by-10 tenement and was in a dire situation himself. He was outraged by the fact that he was cheated.”

According to Mr. Ramasamy, “Raghuram had met Balaji in his native town in Thirupathur during the lockdown and fell at his feet pleading for the loan to be repaid. He said that he rescued my son from a previous lender to whom Balaji was paying ‘meter interest’(compounding rate of interest on interest default.) ‘They would have killed your son, but for me’,” Raghuram had told Mr. Ramasamy.

DSP Murali said Balaji offered to make Raghuram a partner for his share of capital of ₹15 lakh and also borrowed ₹33 lakh. Raghuram had sold a plot for his share of capital in Balaji’s unit and borrowed some money from his mother and a friend. “Raghuram got to know later that Balaji’s unit was in his wife’s name. All this angered Raghuram, who felt he was cheated by Balaji,” the DSP said, explaining why the case did not qualify for usury.

“The FIR was only based on the first information given. We are conducting a detailed investigation into the complaint. We will look into all the allegations of the family and also find supporting documents so that they can be proved in court. We will ensure justice is provided for the victim,” said the Superintendent of Police E. Sai Charan Tejaswi.


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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 8:46:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/man-killed-for-defaulting-on-loan-in-krishnagiri-family-alleges-usury/article34821897.ece

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