|(From above) Juhi’s two-storeyed house, her father and daughter weep and husband Sanjay Kumar. Pictures by Sachin
Patna, Oct. 26: A 26-year-old homemaker committed suicide at 12.30am today after her family allegedly failed to repay a loan to “goonda” bank.
The bank is a surreptitious institution run by goons under cover. In 2006, the bank was thriving in Naugachia, Kursela and Purnea regions with gangsters taking charge of the lending and collection process.
Though there is no concrete evidence as to what led Juhi Devi, alias Nikki, to commit suicide, friends and relatives of the Patna City resident believe extreme pressure from the bank officials led her to take the step.
Her family members were the first to find the woman hanging from an iron hook at their house in Langur Gali under the jurisdiction of Chowk police station. Juhi’s husband Sanjay Kumar (32), alias Kakku, runs a scrap shop with his four brothers in the same area.
A visibly shocked Sanjay was yet to come to terms with the loss but narrated what could have been a probable reason behind her wife’s death.
“In January, we had taken a loan of Rs 80,000 from one Kanhaiya Jaiswal on 10 per cent interest per month. We had promised to return the money by September. However, Jaiswal started bothering us to repay the loan in August itself. He asked us to repay Rs 1,80,000 instead of Rs 1,60,000 that too in August. When we refused to pay in August because of financial constraints, one of Jaiswal’s associates, Munna Chamdoria, called up in September and asked me to pay Rs 3 lakh because we had failed to return the principal and the interest. This came as a shock to my wife,” Sanjay said.
“How could the goonda bank charge so much interest in just 10 months?”
In 2006, police records revealed that the goonda bank had transacted Rs 250-crore worth of business between 1997 and 2006. However, the police dismantled the organisation, apprehending its operatives in 2006 and sending them behind bars. Juhi’s suicide once again brought back the terror the organisation had once spread in the capital and the outskirts. The bank existed almost for two decades during the Lalu-Rabri regime, symbolising anarchy and lawlessness.
Asked about the reason behind taking the loan, Sanjay said: “We had taken the loan for the treatment of my younger brother Pawan Kumar (28), who had met with an accident. We were not aware about the bank. One of my friends told me that such a bank exists and they give loan to anyone without any guarantee. We later realised that criminals were keeping a tab on our activities. Then they started threatening our family members.”
Sanjay’s elder brother Bablu Kumar (35) also received threat calls a month ago.
“In September, Chamdoria threatened me saying if we fail to repay, we will have to face dire consequences. Around 20 days ago, when I was out of town, Chamdoria, along with other goons, forcefully entered our two-storeyed building, threw the family members out of the house, and locked the building. Juhi went into depression ever since we were forcefully thrown out of the house. She wanted her house back,” Bablu said.
“Though she has not left any suicide note behind, extreme depression because of pressure from the goons of the bank was a reason behind her death.” The family is living in a rented house in the same locality for the past 20 days.
On the other hand, Chowk station house officer Pushkar Kumar had a different story to tell. “The woman committed suicide because of family dispute. We are investigating the case,” he said after an FIR was lodged.
Asked about the existence of goonda bank in Patna City, he said: “I have never heard such a name. There are so many nationalised banks, what is this goonda bank all about? I have no information about any such bank.”
Contradicting the officer, a resident of Chowk area, said: “This is not the first incident in which a family has been destroyed by the goonda bank. Two months ago, a similar incident occurred in Gope Gali. The family members had to vacate the house after they failed to return the money. A Brahmin family in Maroofganj faced a similar problem and had to lose their Rs 20-lakh property. There are more than two dozen such banks in this locality and the police are aware of it.”
Juhi is survived by two daughters — Mahi (7) and Sakhi (5).