By Bom Lal Giri,Nawalpur, Dec. 10: Nawalpur district was one of the few districts where complaints of loan-sharking were reported comparatively less than in other districts. However, the issues of loan-sharking have gained impetus in Nawalpur as well.
While over 20,000 complaints of loan sharking were registered in more than 60 districts, only 21 complaints were filed in Nawalpur DAO by July 15, 2023. After forming a commission, the government motivated all the victims to file a complaint about loansharking.
Publications of Gorkhapatra Corporation have been writing on the issue of loan-sharking in the district since August 31. Based on the grievances of the victims, loan sharks were identified in the news articles published since then.
The accused loan sharks have also complained to the Press Council condemning the news and demanding action. However, the council replied that the news was based on facts and deserved no action. Meanwhile, victims have come forward by forming a struggle committee and regularly seeking justice from the concerned authorities. Yet, no effective steps, investigation or action have been taken on the issue by the concerned authorities.
A task force, comprising an assistant Chief District Officer and representatives of the police and District Government Attorney Office, has been formed in every district to solve the problems and complaints related to loansharking. In lack of effective steps, some victims even encircled the house of Maya Bhandari, a leader of Rastriya Swatantra Party and one of the accused loan sharks.
The victims have also been organizing multiple press conferences to inform that they were far from getting justice. They have been stressing that they lodged complaints at the District Administration Office (DAO) more than once.
On the other hand, the accused loan sharks have also started organising press conferences to defend themselves.
Three days ago, Bhandari alongside other accused loan sharks – Kumar Rokka, Bimala Tiwari and Radhika Pandey among others – organised a press meet and refuted all the accusations regarding loansharking. They also challenged to seek legal action if the accusers had evidence.
They also stated that the accusers were those who had sought loans when in need and now defaming under false accusations of loansharking.
“I have been defamed by being linked to a land trade that took place eight years ago. It has been linked baselessly to loansharking now. I will seek legal action against the defamers,” said Bhandari.
And, two days later after the press conference by the accused loan sharks, the victims organised their press meet and condemned the claims of the loan sharks. They challenged the loan sharks to come in front and prove them wrong.
“I have been struggling with loansharking for long. I even thought that I was the only victim. But now I see many were suffering,” said Shyam Bahadur Jhedi Magar, a resident of Kawasoti.
Magar informed that he was victimised by Maya Bhandari and Bishwaraj Pandey. “I was charged a daily interest of Rs. 1,000 for Rs. 100,000. If I could not pay the interest for 15 days, it was added to the principal and the interest would also increase with the sum. I have already paid Rs. 11.8 million,” he added.
Sharada Poudel, another victim from Kawasoti, shared that she lost everything to loansharking.
The Kisan Majdur Struggling Committee, which has been formed by the victims of loansharking, have made public the plans of protest.
“We will organise an all-party discussion programme in the presence of concerned authorities.
We will also reach the district administration and submit a memorandum once again. If the issues remain unaddressed even after the steps, we will start surrounding the houses of officials and loan sharks for pressure,” said Hemraj Dahal, coordinator of the struggling committee.
Meanwhile, the Commission for the Investigation of Loan Sharking informed that they were unaware of the commotions in Nawalpur.
“We have not been informed about the conflict between loan sharks and victims in Nawalpur, neither by the district administration nor the victims,” said Gauri Bahadur Karki, chairman of the Commission.
Karki, who is also a former chairman of the Special Court, added, “The district task force is responsible for solving the cases. Local security units should ensure a peaceful environment for it.”