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A life for a seized tractor & unpaid loan

Barabanki (Uttar Pradesh), July 28: Mansaram Kallu killed himself on Monday after the state auctioned his tractor bought with a government loan as also his land to realise the amount.

The 20-year-old Dalit could not have known that the Rs 1.5-lakh loan would cost him his life. Neither did he know that the government was yet to realise Rs 1,224.72 crore, including interest, sanctioned as loan to set up small-scale industries, shops and establishments.

A comptroller and auditor-general report tabled yesterday in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly says: “The state government did not raise the demand for recovery of principal and interest amount of Rs 1,224.72 crore since 1997. Issue of defective sanction orders caused a loss of interest of Rs 26.63 crore (more).”

Ram Pratap Mishra, a Bahujan Samaj Party leader and a former zilla parishad member, expressed surprise at the action against Mansaram though thousands of similar cases have been hanging fire for long.

The land auction took place on July 15, allegedly at an abnormally fast pace and at lower-than-market rate.

After contemplating a mass suicide when pleas against the auction of his 6 acres failed, Mansaram visited the tehsil office in Ramnagar on Monday to verify if the auction had indeed taken place. On his way back to Isuri Marocha village, he went to a local pond and hung himself from a tree. The body was found yesterday morning.

As the suicide caused a stir in the village with politicians, human rights activists and senior government officers pouring in, Mansaram’s family of seven tried to come to terms with the death.

Father Girdharilal Kallu, 65, was semi-conscious. Mother Kallawati, tears rolling down her cheeks, could only recall how Mansaram had vowed to die together with his family.

“Mansaram fought against poverty by getting a loan from the government and purchased a tractor. But there was never enough clients to hire the tractor. So he could never repay the loan,” she said. “He ran from pillar to post to get his case reconsidered before auctioning. But no one listened.”

Perhaps, he thought god would understand because “before he ended his life, he wrote the name of a god on a piece of paper. He smoked two bidis”, said A.K. Tiwari, station house officer at Mohammadpur Khala police station in Fatehpur block.

With the suicide likely to kick up a storm in the Assembly, BSP leaders alleged that the Mulayam Singh Yadav government was harassing Dalits awarded loan by the Mayavati government two years ago.

Three youths of Isuri Marocha, including Mansaram, had jointly applied and obtained Rs 3 lakh from the Land Development Bank and bought a tractor.

The tractor was auctioned by the district administration for Rs 63,000 on June 14. “If the tractor was bought at Rs 3 lakh… should it not have recovered at least half the price'” asked Pankaj Pandey, a rights activist.

The land was auctioned off at Ramnagar on July 15 for Rs 83,000. The market price is Rs 40,000 an acre. “We are trying to ascertain facts relating to the loan and how the process of auction proceeded,” said Vijay Agarwal, the Barabanki deputy inspector-general.

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