VIJAYAWADA: Jasthi Haritha Varshini, an aspiring doctor, ending her life over unpaid loans is a grim reminder of how widespread harassment by recovery agents is. There have been many similar cases in the State in recent times.
A woman from Avanigadda of Krishna district, who had taken a loan of just Rs 20,000 from an app allegedly committed suicide due to constant harassment by recovery agents to repay the amount.
Similarly, a woman from Mangalagiri, Guntur district was blackmailed that her morphed obscene photos would be shared with her relatives if she didn’t pay back the amount. Despite clearing the entire amount, she took her life when the harassment didn’t stop.
A 19-year-old from Shankavaram of Kanigiri, Prakasam district had also borrowed money from a loan app. He succumbed to the pressure of the recovery agents and ended his life even after his family repaid Rs 1.6 lakh that he owed to the app. The recovery agents are employing different strategies to recover loans, with harassment and using abusive languages being some of them.
Meanwhile, a NABARD survey said Telangana (79%), Andhra Pradesh (77%) and Karnataka (74%) showed the highest levels of indebtedness in the country, as of 2018. The All-India Debt and Investment Survey (AIDIS) has stated that the share of moneylenders in the outstanding dues of rural households had increased from 17.5 per cent in 1991 to 29.6 per cent in 2002. Another report revealed that a total of 70 per cent of families of sex workers have taken loans from money lenders in 2021. The figure has risen to 99 per cent this year.
Minister Kakani Govardhan Reddy and former minister P Anil Kumar Yadav have also been harassed by such loan app agents.In an interaction with media, Kakani said, “I received 79 calls within a few hours from loan agents in Chennai. They claimed that a man named Ashok Kumar had mentioned my number in the contact list he shared with the app.”
K Tayaramma, a relative of the victim from Kanigiri, said the boy’s parents had cleared the loan of about Rs 1.6 lakhs. However, the moneylenders forced them to pay another Rs 40,000. “He felt embarrassed that he had to ask money from his parents again and took the extreme step,” she added. Rajani, state President of VIMUKTHI, appealed to the government to enforce strict laws on moneylenders.