The Maoists have announced a loan waiver for farmers in West Midnapore district of West Bengal. Following this the farmers may not have to repay their crop loans. This is the first time the Maoists have announced such a decision.
"Several peasants who took crop loans over the last two years have suffered losses. So, we have decided that they don't have to pay back their loans," said Koteshwar Rao, member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
In addition to this, he said, no bank would be allowed to charge an interest beyond two percent on advances to peasants this year. Cooperative banks usually charge 7 percent per annum on agri loans. Private money lenders charge much more, between 3 percent and 5 percent per month.
"If anybody, be it from public sector banks or private moneylender tries to squeeze money out of the farmers, he will be branded a people's enemy and tried in a people's court," Rao threatened.
These ‘courts' usually hand out death punishment to people challenging their writ.
Manoj Verma, superintendent of police, West Midnapore said that the police would look into the matter and take any action if anybody lodges a complaint.
State Bank of India, United Bank, Allahabad Bank, UCO Bank and a few co-operative banks have branches in West Midnapore. Bank executives were reluctant to speak on the issue. They were also unwilling to share data of total loans or farmers who may be impacted.
Most of them said, "More than 50 per cent of all loans in the district are advanced by private moneylenders."
Maosits have a threatening presence in around 180 districts in the country and have killed over 300 security personnel in these districts this year.