Loan sharks, hiding in plain sight as people’s saviours during their time of need, are trapping desperate people in webs of lies and sky-high interests
Small business people, who have been especially hit hard by the pandemic and lockdown, have been forced to take out loans from local creditors, who charge exorbitant rates.
These loan sharks, operating informal microfinance rackets, are running rampant in almost every village in Natore district.
As a result, hundreds of desperate families have become destitute, exploited by these creditors, who aren’t regulated under the law.
Forced into bankruptcy after losing lands, homes, or their hard-earned businesses, many have resorted to committing suicide being unable to cope with the overwhelming frustration.
Concerned citizens have brought allegations that the police aren’t as active in curbing deadly, unrelenting carnage of loan sharks as it is in curbing other crimes. And this is allowing for such cutthroat schemes to spread like diseases.
Social leaders and people's representatives say these loan sharks, hiding in plain sight as people’s saviours during their time of need, are trapping desperate people in webs of lies and sky-high interests.
They operate under the radar to collect crores against thousands and evict poor debtors, who fail to make interest payments, out of their homes and land.
Moreover, without any visible intervention from the Anti-Corruption Committee, loan sharks are becoming millionaires free of accountabilities in a short period of time.
Sharing the tragic story of his brother-in-law, Md Belal from Sadar upazila said his sister Taslima’s husband Bulbul recently committed suicide unable to bear the burden of exorbitant interest on his loan.
Bulbul like her sister Malati had become a victim of fraud that led a financially solvent man like him to lose everything. Unable to pay off the initial loan because of high interest, Bulbul borrowed more money from other loan sharks leading to unbearable mental pressure and ultimately to his demise.
After Taslima sued five people over the instigation of Bulbul’s suicide, a court sentenced four people to jail while granting bail to another.
Md Salam and Mukuk Master of Dighapatiya Bazar said being desperate, they borrowed money from a local loan shark. Later, in order to repay the interest several times the borrowed money, one had to sell off his house and the other his land.
Contacted, Natore Sadar Upazila Parishad Vice-Chairman Md Baki and Naldanga Upazila Chairman Asaduzzaman Asad said that they have been discussing the matter for a long time now and have been calling for action against these informal microfinance rackets at the monthly meetings of the upazila and district administration.
The two people's representatives assured this correspondent that the administration will start working to curb this issue very soon.
Similarly, Natore Superintendent of Police Keaton Kumar Saha said they have been discussing the matter and working to find a solution for some time now.