Kozhikode, 9 March, Sreeparvathy K.: Kozhikode District Committee is protesting against CPI(M) State committee’s decision of…
Vinit, Indore: For Rampal Mujalda and other farmers in Rampura village near Kukshi town, it has been a while
since they walked debt-free, away from the clutches of money lenders.
“Life has been difficult. The installments are huge. I have exhausted all my resources in paying off the debt, but I am yet to recover the jewelry which I mortgaged,” Mujalda says.
It is a common practice among farmers of the ‘Bhilala’ tribe to mortgage silver ornaments of their women for farming purposes in their marginal land holdings, says Dhar zilla panchayat member from Kukshi, Virendra Singh Baghel, who has been working in the region for decades.
A Bhilala woman generally wears ancestral silver ornaments that are generations old and weigh an average of two kilos. “We are into this arrangement since generations, it is convenient,” says Prem Singh Dodoye, a farmer from Kukshi.
At the time of harvest, the sahukar or the money lender himself procures their cotton and wheat, sells it in the mandi (market), makes profit, deducts the principal and interest on the sum, and returns the mortgaged ornaments and the money, whatever amount is left, Baghel said.
The sahukars manage the accounts of hundreds of farmers in the region, but later defraud them. Being illiterate and poor, these tribal farmers become easy victims, he said.
“There are hundreds of them. They (moneylenders) prey on the innocence of illiterate tribals,” says Mahendra Kannoj, a local tribal youth leader.
He said the farmers also keep their savings with the lenders, treating them like a bank. While they think their deposits are safe with him, they are being charged an inflated interest rate and trapped in a vicious debt.
One such case is of Tarun Rathore, who is said to have impounded over 100 kg of silver and cotton produce of more than 100 farmers, and has now filed for bankruptcy before a court, apparently to get away from returning the only wealth of the farmers.