MUMBAI: Constant harassment by loan recovery agents appointed by a private bank drove a 38-year-old man to kill himself at his Andheri (E) residence on Monday.
Prakash Sarvankar, who was unable to repay some of the loan instalments due to his illness, wrote a one-page suicide note in Marathi blaming intimidation from the recovery agents for his death.
Sarvankar stated that the recovery agents, contracted by ICICI Bank, would visit his house and abuse him in the presence of his wife and young daughters. On one occasion, they even took away his music system and speakers. Four days before the incident, the agents had threatened Sarvankar with dire consequences if he failed to pay up. They even forced him to submit in writing that he would repay one instalment on Monday. Around 10.30 am on Monday, Sarvankar hanged himself from the ceiling with a dupatta.
"This is a serious offence and I have asked my officers to conduct a detailed probe. Four men have been arrested on charges of abetment of suicide. Of these, three are agents and one is a bank employee," said zonal DCP KMM Prasanna. The police are also likely to make inquiries with senior ICICI Bank officials.
When contacted, an ICICI spokesperson admitted that Sarvankar was their customer and had taken a loan of Rs 50,000. "The police have summoned three agents from our collection agency based in Andheri for questioning. We are also conducting an inquiry and appropriate action would be taken. As a bank, we would never authorise any of our agencies to use coercive methods."
The four arrested accused have been identified as Nishant Nagrale (29), Hiren Vaidya (25), Kailash Chaudhary and Tushar Pargavkar (25). They have been booked under sections 452, 306, 506 (II) and 34 of IPC for abeting suicide. Of these, Chaudhary is an ICICI Bank employee, who had accompanied the three agents.
According to the police, Sarvankar lived with his wife and three school-going daughters at Neman chawl in Andheri''s Malpa Dongri area. Out of a job since the past few months, Sarvankar was going through a rough patch. He had also contracted jaundice. His wife, Priyanka, worked double shifts to make ends meet.
In January 2007, Sarvankar had taken a personal loan of Rs 50,000 from ICICI. While he had repaid few installments, the bank said that at least four instalments were pending. Five cheques issued by him had bounced. Soon, four agents from a loan collection agency, reporting to the ICICI bank, started making rounds of Sarvankar''s house.
"The men would create a scene at Sarvankar''s place, drawing residents from the entire locality. They would verbally abuse and taunt him for taking a loan despite having no money to repay it. They even took away his CD player and speakers," said senior inspector P Sonawane. "On September 13 and 15, the men revisited his house and threatened him with dire consequences. Sarvankar had even paid up one instalment during the month. The men forced him to submit in writing that he would repay one more instalment on Monday. They had also announced they would return on Monday."
Around 10.30 am on Monday when no one was home, Sarvankar hanged himself from the ceiling with a dupatta. His wife, Priyanka, found his body and informed the police. He was declared dead before admission to the hospital.
The police promptly arrested the four men mentioned in the suicide note. Sarvankar had specified the harassment he had gone through at the hands of the agents.