Theft of a “Stone Well” – Tamasha of the Great Indian Loan System

In the late 90s a farmer from Odisha filed a First Information Report (FIR) on Theft with the Nayagarh Police. Without knowing what theft was and without going through the complaint letter, Nayagarh police accepted his FIR. For them it was just an FIR on theft, an ordinary FIR, a source of income, not at all a serious matter. They just ignored the depth of the complaint at that time. But, when they realized, it was too late;  that “a stone well (built for fetching water) of 20 feet depth and of 6 feet diameter” is the property which was stolen and the FIR is about that. They could not understand how to proceed in this case? How come a stone well can be stolen? They initially thought the  farmer must be a psychiatric patient or must have filed the FIR under the influence of alcohol. But, that was not the case. He was quite normal and deliberately he had filed the FIR. Police neither understood the case, nor wanted to solve it. After a fortnight’s deliberation and struggle, Nayagarh police tried to convince the farmer to withdraw the case, but to no avail. And finally… they had to transfer the case to the Civil Court of Nayagarh.

After a considerable delay (which is common in Indian judicial system), the case came to the chair for hearing. Like the police, the magistrate who was hearing the case also could not understand the case. How come a 20 feet deep, 6 feet diameter stone well get stolen from his land? Every one including his own lawyers were in fix! No one could understand what is the motive behind this case. Theft of a stone well was just an impossible matter — how can one dig up a concrete thing from ground and take it away. But, the farmer was insisting, was insisting to investigate. On the day of the first hearing, the farmer through his statement informed the court that he took an agricultural loan of Rs 10,000/- from the local bank a year back. With that money he built the stone well on his land. The bank did not release the entire money in one shot, instead released the money in two instalments, after they were satisfied/verified the water level through their employees/agents. Even the local Revenue Inspector (RI) had visited the land and had certified that the stone well was built at the marked place. His certificate even further said that he has also verified the water level of the stone well. With all these proofs, the  farmer managed to convince the magistrate that the stone well was there in his land.

On the second day of the hearing, the farmer again tried to justify that his stone well is stolen. “How?”, that was the question asked by the govt lawyer.  To that, the  farmer answered, “I had the well on my land for 1 year, but now it is not there in my land. I don’t have any idea where is it or who has stolen that? Therefore I filed an FIR with the police and requested the police to find my well, which was a life-line for me“. To a separate query, the police said that they do not know whether the well was there in that land or not before 1 year, but definitely it is not present in the marked land at this moment. To add to the queries, they also informed the court (from their investigation) that they could find a grassy land, where there was no sign of well and nor was there any chance of a well to be present on that spot at any point of time. The height of the grass was at-least 1 mtr, which normally takes more than year to grow. That means, the well was missing for more than a year or so ! But as per the farmer’s statement it was built one year back. The government lawyer took this point and tried to prove that the  farmer was misleading the court and he should be punished.

Interestingly the court was not convinced with the govt. lawyer’s arguments. The judge wanted to know the reaction/counter argument through the farmer’s lawyers. The farmer who was mostly arguing his own case informed the court, that the investigation report submitted by the police is correct. However, he also added that his own statements are also justified. On further arguments, he cited all certificates which were issued by various independent agencies when his loan was being processed and when the loan was sanctioned. If their certificates were right, then this stone well was actually there on his land. According to the paper works and documents prepared, the loan was sanctioned, the stone well was built and he had it ready for business purposes — but all this only on paper not in reality. It was almost one year now when the well was supposed to have been built. As per the bank’s recent notice he had to repay his loan money. So he wanted to sell his stone well like any other commodities such that he can re-pay his debt. Since he could not locate that, he filed an FIR!

Now it was up to the court whether to accept the police report or the certificates issued by various agencies! If the police was right, then the stone well was not at all built. In that case, all the certificates are false, which was actually correct. In fact, the middle men, Revenue Inspector, Bank officials and the agents forcefully deducted their part (to sanction the loan) from the loan amount while releasing the loan to the farmer and issued all fake certificates without even asking them and even seeing the land and the well. Like every other loan, they did not visit any place, no survey was done and the loan was sanctioned. Poor farmer!! he only received Rs. 8000/- instead of Rs. 10, 000/- for his loan. The rest was for the “chai-pani” for the officials and the middle men. When he tried to raise his voice, he was threatened… “your second instalment will not be sanctioned and the bank declare him a defaulture, by virtue of which he will not get any loan in future”.

Reluctantly the farmer kept his silence and  no body was there to listen to his plea, not even his fellow farmers. “Are le lo… jo milta hai le lo, sarkar election ki time pe loan maaf kar denge (Take what ever is granted, the govt. will declare a loan waver at the time of election)” – was the reply to his complaints. Had he made any further complaint, he would not have got the second instalment of the loan at all. So, he decided to take the loan and to teach a lesson to all including the society on corruption and illegal practices in sanctioning loans to farmers. He was right, he could manage to do so. His initiation was a hit. The court ordered for arrest of all the officials and the middle men involved in the loan process and fined them heavily. Court also ordered for a detailed report from the district collector and the bank head quarters on such kind of loans.

The farmer, an aamjunta like you and me did his job, brought the corruption to light. But what about us? Don’t we think we should also raise our voices on such similar cases? Don’t we think it is our duty also? And the government!, the administration also should keep an eye on the loan process, the harassment, the illegal practices, the false reports and the delay in sanctioning the loans. Why can’t we make the loan process a transparent affair?

With the increase in suicide of farmers in Vidarbh (Maharastra), Jharsuguda (Odisha), Nizamabad (Andhra Pradesh),  Durg (Chatishgarh) and so on… don’t we think it is  high time for every one including you and me to rise to the occasion and raise our voices and stop all these tamasas, effects, after effects and so on.

Jago aamjunta, jago. Na khao na khilao.

Jai Hind

Note: This post is dedicated to the departed known-unknown souls of Vidarbh, Jharsuguda, Nizamabad and Durg.

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15 Responses

  1. hello aamjunta!
    I’ll never get tired by reading your blogs and grading them excellent!!
    all these are not just blogs, but a true eye-opener…
    I’m sure every reader will definitely avoid corruption at least in their level..
    JAI HIND 🙂

  2. Excellent tragedy by our system…Infact the process is beyond the common man thinking level…. Dramatic acts such this should be well noticed….

  3. Is it a fiction or real story? Even if it fiction, then also it is very good.

    kuchh to karte hain 🙂

  4. Interesting story!! what was not there in the first place cannot be stolen, but since it was on paper the farmer had an edge!! in this i must hats off to the RTI activists who are exposing loop holes left right and centre!!

  5. Great one as usual hemant da!! Bharat ek Krishi Pradhan Desh hai aur humaare Kissan sabse intelligent !! Really I mean it. Then don’t get PhD in agriculture technology from IIT Kgp or GBPUAT Pantnagar or other such university but they are the best….Still our system labels them as Bottom of Pyramid (BoP) 😦 and these economically backward people have no choice but ……..

    Thanks for validating my claim hemant da. Good one..

  6. Hey!
    IMO, this is THE most awesome article you have ever written.

  7. VERY INTERESTING STORY 🙂 aamjunta write more!

    JAI HIND

  8. very interesting….i mean is this a true story>>…even if not….it sure teaches a lesson…

  9. Thanks Tulu and Rahul.

    Yes, it is a tragedy as well as a comedy of our system. But, can we do some thing to change this? I hope and I wish.

    @true indian, Eddy, Chirag, Naren, Vikrant, Bharat

    Thank you for your valuable comments. Yes, this is a true story, not a fiction.

    Naren: You are right sir. PhD is not the only yard-stick. That mind set has to be changed.

  10. Good point that is being raised here. But, you will be surprised to know that bank officials and other middle men take enough money as % for sanctioning a loan. Even granting their own money also is not that easy.

  11. Count me a fan of aamjunta ++

    interesting, could not stop laughing 🙂 — sidhi ungli me ghee nahin nikalta, may be more appropriate here. keep writing, we at IISc are waiting for your articles.

  12. Thanks for refreshing my memory, read this story (“kua chori) as a kid, feels so much more relevant in a grown up world !

  13. Chai Paani in India has become a tradition from Clerk to officials in high Post don’t hesitate to ask for Chai-Paani and I always wonder how Chai Paani can be so costly.. 😛

    But Seriously this post is an eye-opener and we must always raise our voice against all such things then only we can minimise such things if not completely eradicate…

  14. Such a clever farmer declaring his kua stolen. Enjoyed it even more because an ordinary farmer managed, not only to get the police to accept his fir but also to bring all those officials confident in their deeply entrenched system of extracting chai-paani, to justice.

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