Micro-finance men accused of assault

Representatives of a private micro-finance company have been accused of abusing, threatening and attempt to assaulting a borrower, S. Arjunan, who runs a tea shop here on Monday.

A scuffle between Arjunan, 46, and the representatives led to spilling of hot water over Arjunan’s daughter Srivardhini. The minor girl has been admitted to the Government Hospital for burn injuries on her head and face.

According to Arjunan’s wife, Kalaimathi, 37, she had been prompt in repayment of loan till lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic led to closure of the tea shop in March. “Like all other borrowers, I also did not repay the loan in the intervening period as per the government moratorium on repayment.,” she said.

After the lenders kept calling, Kalaimathi had given ₹1,300 to her elder daughter to hand over to an employee of the finance company. “After taking the money, they had threatened my daughter of action if the balance ₹650 was not immediately paid,” she said.

Even after payment of due for December, they insisted that the borrower should immediately pay the instalment for January. “When my husband questioned them for threatening my daughter, five of them came to the shop and started to abuse us. They also assaulted him,” she said.

Alleging that in the scuffle, they pushed the boiling water and it splashed on the girl’s face. “Even as she was screaming with burns, they were keen on taking on my husband,” she complained.

Functionaries from All India Democractic Women’s Association, Mythili and Mary, met them on Tuesday. They took up the issue with the local police.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) town secretary B. Mariappan said that “high-handness” by micro-finance lenders was very high during the COVID-19 lockdown. “Even as the poor borrowers were suffering due to lockdown, the lenders were trying to arm-twist them,” he said.

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