‘Not about one family’: Medha Patkar urges people to fight against Sarfaesi Act

Medha Patkar visited Preetha Shaji, the Kerala woman who has been struggling to save her land and house after she acted as surety for someone else's bank loan.
‘Not about one family’: Medha Patkar urges people to fight against Sarfaesi Act
‘Not about one family’: Medha Patkar urges people to fight against Sarfaesi Act
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Organisations and movements and individuals must come together and start a satyagraha for Preetha Shaji, activist Medha Patkar said to a gathering at the Gandhi Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.  

She was talking about the woman who has been going through a lot of struggle to save her land and house in Pathadippalam, Ernakulam, after a bank loan went wrong. Acting as surety for a relative proved to be a bad idea for Preetha and her husband Shaji, when the burden of repayment fell on their shoulders and the original amount of Rs 2 lakh mounted to a large sum of Rs 2 Crore. Her house and the 18-and-a-half cents of land it stands on has received several attachment notices.

Medha Patkar had visited Preetha at the venue of a protest that she had begun in front of her home. “The Kerala government has taken a position (promising that the confiscation of the house will not happen) but the High Court is not ready to listen.” She draws parallels to the Singur movement in West Bengal.

Medha also spoke against the arrest of the activists Jenny and Manuel, when they protested against the attachment of Preetha’s house.

The problem comes from the Sarfaesi Act (Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act), 2002, which allows banks and other financial institution to auction residential or commercial properties to recover loans.  

The activists arrested belonged to the anti-Sarfaesi People’s Movement. Medha Patkar urged everyone to protest in front of the jail or Preetha’s house.  "It is necessary to take a position and be judges ourselves. It is not about one family.  Tomorrow, any property could be confiscated to promote private landlords."

Medha Patkar had also spoken about the Wetlands and Paddy Lands Act which was being amended. “We cannot allow that. It’s ruling out the role given to local monitoring committee, without understanding the environmental effects it will cause,” she said.  

It is important that there are channels to facilitate dialogues between people's organisations and ruling party leaders, she said. Medha spoke of the CRZ Act, which if changed, could affect the livelihood of fishermen.

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