Big 'Mahajani' racket busted in Tripura
FROM A CORRESPONDENT
AGARTALA, May 15: The CPI(M) leaders who are used to complain about death of hundreds of farmers falling in the debt trap in Maharashtra, Kartaka and in many other states are now facing a similar situation in their own turf of Tripura.
Recently a big mahajani racket was busted in the state’s remotest sub-division of Gandachera under Dhalai district and large number of incrimiting documents was recovered to prove that the accused are running a Mahajani racket violating the Bombay Money Lenders Act.
Bhaskar Dasgupta, sub-divisiol Magistrate, led a raid in the house of one Tarani Debth and his two accomplices Pradip Debth and Shanti Chakma and their shops from where the documents were recovered.
These include17 bank pass book in different me, 4 ATM card with secret code, 71 bank cheque book, 91 signed blank cheque, 49 Fixed Deposit certificates issued by different banks, 16 signed blank stamp paper, several land documents etc. Police also sealed two steel almirah’s of Tarani Debth, believed to contain many more documents.
However, Tarani and two of his accomplices could not be arrested as they absconding.
‘What we recovered is just the tips of the iceberg, the actual spread of the racket is much more’, said Bhaskar Dasgupta, SDM. He said we are investigating and hope that we will be able to unearth the whole racket’. He admitted to receiving allegations that many people in the area committed suicide falling in this loan trap but this is yet to be proved.
The ruling Left Front used to claim that it has abolished Mahajani business in the state but Saturday’s revelations proved otherwise.
It is learnt that Tarani Debth, ostensibly a rice trader in the Gandachera market, was the king pin of a huge racket that was lending money to the poor farmers of the area and used to collect high rate of interest. He used to use the ATM cards and the signed blank cheques of the indebted persons, kept in his custody, to collect the monthly interests from their account while other documents were used as security against the loan.
According to sources in sub-divisiol office, Tarani Debth is running the Mahajani racket in the area for many years and has accumulated huge properties including several houses in Agartala, a few crores in 15 bank accounts and in many other forms. On the other hand the large number of farmers, many of whom are poor jhumias, once fell in this loan trap found it difficult to come out.
‘Some of them had sold all their land and other properties but found it was too idequate to repay their loan. Many of them committed suicide too’, said one involved in the raid.
Though the racket was active for a long time nobody ever spoke about it. The sub-divisiol officer became active only after one of the victims went to him to rrate the happenings and also filed a complaint at the local police station.
It is learnt that the role of a section of the bank employees also came under the scanner. ‘They create unnecessary hurdles when one goes for taking loan and advice them to go to the local Mahajani to avoid such complications.
After the racket is busted many started to open their mouth and revealed that Tarani Debth is no the exception in the trade. At least 10 more Mahajans are active in the Gandachera sub-division of Dhalai district alone. The sub-divisiol office is planning raids on others too but reportedly facing obstructions from unknown sources including local leaders of the ruling party.