Farmer in Haryana defaults on loan of Rs 11 lakh, bank auctions land worth Rs 90 lakh; controlled probe

Agricultural unions in Haryana have alleged that a nationalized bank auctioned off a 2.5 acre piece of land worth Rs 90 lakh to a farmer in 2014 when he was unable to repay a loan of Rs 11 lakh which he had taken out. On April 16 this year, the buyer, apparently a former relative of the minister with the help of the police and the local administration, arrived to take possession of the land in Jalala Viran village of Karnal district, but the farmers did not let him.

Farmer Rishpal Singh, 55, had taken a loan of Rs 11 lakh from the bank to start a dairy in 2007. His son Gagandeep Singh told The Indian Express: ‘We had paid over Rs 2 lakh to the bank in the form of payments. But our financial situation deteriorated when the cows died after falling from the barn where they were housed. We did not receive insurance money in lieu of their death. We couldn’t repay the loan.

With interest and penalties, the total loan outstanding reached Rs 17 lakh. “In 2014, our land was auctioned in secret. No announcement was made in the village,” Gagandeep Singh said.

Bhadhur Singh Mehla, a local BKU (Sir Chhotu Ram) leader, said the 2.5 acres of land was sold through online auction to the relative of a former Haryana minister. Mehla said: “The buyer went to court to take possession of the land. Five days ago, when the buyer, the local authorities and his lawyer arrived in the village, the farmers objected to this decision. As a result, the process of taking possession has been postponed for the time being.

Meanwhile, Farmers Associations held a meeting in Karnal and also met with Deputy Commissioner Anish Yadav. They requested an investigation by an SIT to investigate the circumstances in which the farmer’s land was auctioned “in secret”.

BKU (Mann) leader Rattan Mann said: “We have learned that the electronic auction notice has been published in an English newspaper. The farmer was not informed of the move at all. When such a major move took place, the farmer should have been properly informed. Now the farmer concerned should be allowed to sell a piece of land so that he can repay the loan himself.

With farmer groups suspecting a conspiracy in the sale-purchase of farmland, the administration has asked DC Vaishali Sharma to investigate the matter within a week.

The DC told The Indian Express: “It will be checked whether due process was followed in the auction of the farmer’s land. If fault on anyone’s part is found, strict action will be taken.

Meanwhile, the farmers have planned a dharna outside the Karnal DC office after April 28, if the land auction is not canceled or the issue is not resolved by then. BKU leader Rakesh Tikait also attended a Kisan Panchayat on the issue on Wednesday.

Bernadine J. Perkins