Kerala: People protest with body of woman against scam-hit Co-Op bank, triggers political row

Karavannur Co-Operative bank has been in news for the last one year after a Rs 100 crore loan scam was reported there and also over the protest staged by investors demanding their money back.

Published: 29th July 2022 07:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th July 2022 08:33 PM   |  A+A-

Karavannur Co-Operative bank-Philomina

Indian National Congress politicians visit the family of Philomina who died this week. Her husband alleged the Karavannur bank authorities had refused to return him the deposited money. (Photo | EPS)


THRISSUR: A recent sit-in protest by a group of people, in front of a ruling CPI(M)-controlled co-operative bank with the body of a woman, alleging that it denied money for her treatment although the family had deposited lakhs of rupees there, has snowballed into a political controversy, following which Kerala Social Justice Minister R Bindhu offered to support the depositors.

Bindhu, who represents Irinjalakuda in the state Assemby where the bank is located, said the matter was taken up with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Co-operative Minister V N Vasavan assured to give Rs 25 crore to the bank immediately to resolve its issues.

The Marxist party-controlled Karavannur Co-Operative bank, located in this district, has been in news for the last one year after a Rs 100 crore loan scam was reported there and also over the protest staged by investors demanding their money back.

"As the bank is located in my constituency, it is my responsibility to stand with the affected people. The Co-operative minister informed that Rs 25 crore will be made available to the Karavannur Bank," she told reporters here.

Her assurance came a day after she was widely criticised for her comments justifying the authorities of the scam-hit bank, saying it had already released money for the treatment of Philomina, a 70-year-old depositor who died early this week following an infection in brain.

Bindhu had called the protest 'politically motivated' and said it was not right to use a person's dead body for political gains.

"A section of media has showed only edited portions of my statement and presented it in a bad light," she said adding that her remarks were misinterpreted.

However, CPI, the second largest coalition partner in the Left Democratic Front (LDF), criticised the government for the delay in constituting a consortium as promised to protect the bank when the scam was detected a year ago.

"Since the beginning, the CPI has taken a stand that the deposits of the people should be protected and it should be given back to them on time. We also demanded that legal proceedings be initiated against the accused in the case," CPI district secretary K K Valsaraj said.

Members of political parties protest outside Karavannur Co-Operative bank. (Photo | EPS)

Following our stand, the minister had given assurance in the state Assembly that no depositor would lose their money.

It is almost a year now but the assurance to form a consortium to address the concerns of depositors is yet to be fulfilled, he said and requested the concerned ministers to speed up steps in this regard.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, V D Satheesan said it was not just the issue of Karavannur co-operative bank, but depositors of as many as 164 such banks across Kerala are facing serious circumstance of not getting their invested money back.

"For the last one year, the opposition UDF has been demanding guarantee for the money deposited in co-operative banks. Despite mere assurances that necessary steps will be taken in this regard, the government has not taken any action so far," he said.

Targeting Minister Bindu over her remarks on Philomina's death, Satheesan said it was "unfortunate" and "condemnable".

He also urged the Left government to give assurances to the depositors of all the 164 co-operative banks, which are in crisis, to get their deposit back at the earliest.

An alleged Rs 100 crore loan scam was reported in Karavannur co-operative bank here in July 2021, following which a case was registered against six bank officials and inquiry launched.

After several people including local customers raised apprehensions about the bank's functioning, an audit was conducted there recently, in which the charges were reportedly found to be true.

During the inspection, it was also found that loans were sanctioned on the property pledged by local customers without their knowledge and the loan amount was credited multiple times to the selected account.

Following the allegations, the 13-member committee of the Marxist party-ruled bank was disbanded.


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