Several farmers from the Belagavi district have reportedly been issued arrest warrants by a Kolkata magistrate court, following a petition filed with them by Axis Bank after the bank alleged that the farmers had defaulted on loans. This comes much after the Karnataka state government had stated that it would issue loan waivers to farmers who were struggling to make ends meet, following several crop failures due to droughts, but those waivers have reportedly been delayed.
The Ninth Metropolitan Magistrate of Kolkata recently issued the warrants, following the petition filed by the bank.
After hearing of the issue, state Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy spoke to the Belagavi Deputy Commissioner to initiate all the measures to protect the farmers and also asked why the warrants were issued despite his order to the banks.
Subsequently, Belagavi Deputy Commissioner has approached the farmers in the region and has asked them to not panic, stating that they would be given appropriate protection. It has been reported that between 60 to 100 farmers have been issued arrest warrants in conjunction with this issue and that the warrants were received by the Belagavi Police Commissioner’s office on October 9, which were then forwarded to the Saundatti police.
Following this, farmer’s movement Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and Hasiru Sene plan to protest at the Vidhana Soudha on November 19. It has also been reported that other farmers’ organisations, including Karnataka Sugarcane Growers’ Association, may also take part in the protest.
“It has been six months since the government announced the waiver, but there is no sign of it being implemented. The delay has taken a toll on farmers who are getting notices and arrest warrants,” said KRRS president Chamarasa Patil to TOI.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had announced a conditional waiver of farmer loans, setting aside Rs 34,000 crore in the first Budget presented by the JD(S)-Congress coalition government at the Vidhana Soudha in July. He had also declared at the time that all defaulted crop loans up to December 31, 2017, would be waived as well.
However, little action has been seen on that front and the local police have now been directed to arrest those who’ve been issued warrants before February 19, 2019.