Harassed for Rs 6,800, Bengal plumber kills himself as collection agents sat outside his home

Unable to pay EMI on time, a plumber in the village of Murshidabad in West Bengal hanged himself for feeling “humiliated” when agents from a private finance company allegedly sat outside his home until the installments were collected.

Sadhan Sinha (40), who worked as a plumber, leaves behind his wife and two sons, ages 18 and 15.

Sadhan had taken a loan of Rs 1 lakh in January to buy a two-wheeler. huhnevertheless, he failed to pay monthly installments of Rs 3,400 for the month of May and June (Rs 6,800 in total), the Telegraph reported.

According to the report, Sadhan Sinha earned Rs 15,000-20,000 per month. However, his eldest son said Sadhan’s income had fallen after tougher restrictions were imposed to contain the pandemic.

Sadhan had taken the loan to buy a two-wheeler so that he could get more work, his family said. But he was unable to pay the dues on time for two months.

When Sadhan failed to pay his EMI, salvage officers visited his home in Bindupara village around 9am on Tuesday and refused to leave until dues were paid, Sadhan’s wife Mamoni said.

“I begged for a few days, but they wouldn’t listen. They sat in front of the house and said they wouldn’t leave without collecting the dues. My husband felt so humiliated that he killed himself,” Mamoni said. .

Meanwhile, Sadhan’s neighbors said, “He was loved in the area. He probably couldn’t stand the antics of the agents, which the locals had noticed.”

Mamoni said Sadhan locked himself in a room after the officers stayed outside the house. When she went to look for her husband, she found their bedroom locked. After calling several times, she looked through the window and saw Sadhan hanging from the ceiling fan.

Sadhan’s suicide exposes how some Indians are unable to access financial aid from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

In view of the pandemic, the RBI had announced several emergency measures last month to help citizens, small businesses, health care providers and vaccine manufacturers deal with the second wave of the pandemic.

Under this initiative, the RBI has sought to provide some relief to borrowers by instructing banks and financial institutions to consider debt restructuring, provided that dues are paid until March 2021. Individuals can also opt for a loan restructuring – deferred payment and rescheduling – if their payments were not more than 30 days past due.

In Sadhan’s case, he apparently qualified for a debt rescheduling as he had paid his EMIs until April. But he was likely unaware of the RBI’s initiative that would have allowed him to renegotiate the loan agreement with the financial institution, the report said.

“While the debt restructuring is a prerogative of the bank or the finance company, the problem is that most of the people who desperately need the facility are not aware of its existence,” said one banker.

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