A woman and her daughter committed suicide by setting themselves on fire on Tuesday in Neyyattinkara in Thiruvananthapuram district after a bank threatened to attach their house for failing to repay a 15-year-old loan, police said.
The 19-year-old daughter, an undergraduate student, succumbed to her burns on way to the hospital and her mother who received 80 per cent burns also died at the medical college hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.
The incident triggered widespread outrage and local legislator C K Hareendran, who tried to negotiate with the bank earlier, alleged that the “bank’s inhuman attitude led to the unfortunate incident” and sought action against the officials.
K Chandran, the house owner who once worked in the Persian Gulf was not at home when the incident took place. Later he told police that he had taken Rs 7.80 lakh loan from Canara Bank branch in Neyyttinkara 15 years ago and he had paid back Rs 8 lakh so far but the bank was insisting for a payment of Rs five lakh more as interest and other penalties. He said his property was worth Rs 50 lakh and he promised the bank that he will clear all dues after disposing the house but it refused to wait.
Neighbours said the family had received phone calls and message from the bank on Tuesday morning saying that their house will be attached by May 15. Both mother and daughter were really upset over the frequent visit of the bank officials, they said.
However a bank official, who did not want to be identified, said the family had taken the loan 15 years ago and failed to repay both interest and principal amount for last five years. He said the bank then moved the court and it ordered the attachment if the amount was not repaid within the stipulated time. He said the deadline was May 15 but denied putting any pressure on the family.
“It was a sad incident. Officials acted as per the law. We are under pressure from seniors to clear all pending dues. It was unfair to target them,” he said. Senior officials of the bank were not available for their comments.
State Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan has sought a report from district collector and has summoned senior officials of the bank. He said after the floods that devastated the state last year there was a moratorium on all loans and it was unfair on the part of bank to go ahead with attachment.
State Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac also expressed shock over the incident. “Even in the last bankers’ level meeting the government told banks not to attach houses in case of any default and deal such issues with a human touch,” he said adding the government will look into the case and ensure compensation to the family.
Angry locals came out in large numbers and blocked the main road in Neyyattinkara seeking the arrest of the bank manager and other employees.
May 14, 2019 19:54 IST