It’s a lesson in contrasts: even as the country debates Vijay Mallya’s departure, leaving behind a massive debt of Rs. 7,000 crore, a farmer in Tamil Nadu is beaten and assaulted for a debt of Rs. 1.3 lakh to a bank. Evidence of this beating is available in the form of a video, filmed in Thanjavur district on Friday, which shows the farmer being assaulted by the police.
The video shows Balan, the farmer sitting on a tractor and three policemen asking him to get down. One policeman holds his shirt and the farmer can be heard saying, “Let go of my shirt".
Another policeman then starts pulling his leg and hitting him. Unable to pull the farmer out of the tractor, the policeman then climbs up from behind and starts thrashing the man. He can be heard screaming and abusing even as another policeman comes to his aid and starts pulling the farmer’s leg. Exasperated at the farmer's resistance, the second policeman too climbs the tractor and then both, together, assault the man. Some voices (from the public who gathered) can he heard asking the police not to beat him.
The third cop too joins in and they take him forcibly to three cars parked nearby (it looks like bank employees were also present). The policeman can be heard saying that there is a court order, what else can you expect us to do?
Details emerging from an NDTV report indicate that the farmer had missed the last two instalments on his loan of Rs. 3.8 lakh (taken to purchase a tractor), on which he had already repaid Rs. 4.1 lakh including interest. The bank had obtained a court order to seize the tractor, which the police were enforcing. According to the NDTV report, the farmer’s wife said, “Vijay Mallaya owes hundreds of crore, he's let off. We poor farmers are harassed.”
The comparison comes at a time when reports have revealed that public sector banks continued to lend large amounts of money to Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines even when the company was clearly unable to repay its existing loans. And when the banks and the courts finally began to initiate action against Mallya, he had already left the country.