KARNATAKA

CM seeks report on arrest warrants served on farmers

H.D. Kumaraswamy  

The State government, which is in the midst of implementing its farm loan waiver scheme, has sought a report from the Belagavi district administration about a few farmers receiving arrest warrants from a court in Kolkata. The warrants followed a petition by Axis Bank alleging that the farmers had defaulted on loans taken for machinery purchase and land development.

The Ninth Metropolitan Magistrate of Kolkata recently issued the warrants, to be served by the district police, to five farmers in the district.

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Sunday directed the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police to safeguard the interests of farmers. “He has said the government will stand by the farmers. Those benefiting under the government loan waiver scheme need not worry,” a statement from the CM’s Office said.

The Kolkata court issued the arrest warrants after the five farmers failed to respond to summons to the court on September 20. The bank had added to its list of allegations that the post-dated cheques and other cheques received from farmers at the time of sanctioning of loan had bounced, making them criminally liable.

Protection sought

Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) leader Appasaheb Desai urged the government to protect farmers from arrest warrants. “The accused farmers have gone into hiding and are not in contact with their families also,” he said.

According to him, Basappa Hubballi and Bheemappa Pujari of Saundatti taluk had shared copies of the warrants with the KRRS, and they have been to the Deputy Commissioner’s office. “We alerted the DC office a few days ago, but they failed to act,” he said.

Mr. Desai said that around 180 farmers had obtained loans from Axis Bank, but arrest warrants have been sent to five so far. “The number may increase if the bank finds more defaulters.”

Kurubur Shanthakumar, founder-president of Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers’ Association, urged the government to initiate legal action against the private bank and restrict its operations in the State. “The bank should respect the government’s intention to waive loans. Any bank has to wait till the waiver is complete. Even if farmers don’t pay loans on time, banks should not take legal recourse.”

District lead bank manager S. Nagaraj said Axis Bank had not shared any clear information on the transactions with the lead bank.

“The matter is sub judice and it would not be appropriate for us to comment on it at this point,” said the official spokesperson of Axis Bank.