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Farmers in Madhya Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region are upset over an ‘insulting’ bank notice asking them to repay their loans and warned they will be forced to protest against the Congress-led state government for failing to keep its promise to waive their debts.

The Madhyanchal Gramin Bank, farmers said, has issued a notice to at least 600 of them in the past 15 days and attached a copy of chief minister Kamal Nath’s appeal to repay the pending loan with interest.

“You were sanctioned a loan of Rs 50,000 that you had to repay in instalments but despite repeated notices, you are not paying attention to pay the instalments. We request you to pay the loan instalments with interest to get the benefit of the government scheme,” the notice served to a farmer of Buxwaha in Chhatarpur district read.

A note accompanying the notice has further upset many farmers.

“Samajhdar bane. Bank ka karja samay per ada karein aur kisi bhi hone wali apriya stithi se bachein. Dhyan rakhen karj, karj hai, daan nahi (Be wise. Repay the bank’s loan on time and avoid any unpleasant situation. Keep in mind that a debt is a debt and no charity),” the note signed by the branch manager said.

Chief minister Kamal Nath had written the open letter on August 23.

“Loans of all those farmers whose loans are Rs 2 lakh or less (per head) against one loan account; or one of the loans, in case of more than one loan, will be waived as per priority to give benefit to more and more small farmers as per the promise by MP government,” he had written.

Nath had asked farmers, whose loans are yet to be waived, to renew their accounts by repaying the amount until their loans are cleared.

Farmers’ associations in the state had called it a change in the government’s stand and threatened to launch an agitation. They said there was no such “rider” till now. Nath had announced a scheme to waive farm loans of up to Rs 2 lakh soon after taking charge as chief minister in December 2018 for all farmers but had not mentioned any specific conditions.

Farmer Mukesh Soni of Buxwaha said, “In the first round, the loan up to Rs 50,000 was waived off by the government. I had applied for a loan waiver and also found my name in the green list, which includes the names of eligible farmers, but still, my loan has not been waived and the bank has a served a notice to me. Through the notice, the bank officers are threatening us and also insulting us.”

Another farmer, Dulichand Ahirwar of Karawara village of Chhatarpur said, “We are not begging for anything from the government. We are demanding what it had promised to us.”

“The chief minister is making an appeal to us to repay the loan but he should understand that we have just sown kharif crop. Whatever money we had, we spent in purchasing seeds and fertiliser. Now, how would we repay the loan?” Ahirwar asked.

The farmers said the state government was compelling them to again stage a protest just like the one two years ago for justice. In June 2017, farmers in different parts of the state had launched an agitation, which later turned violent and claimed the lives of six farmers in Mandsaur.

“We are still waiting for the Congress government to fulfil its promise but by sending such notices to us, it is hurting us and forcing to come on the road,” said Gokul Bramhan of Dharampura village of the district.

The manager of Madhyanchal Gramin Bank’s Buxwaha branch, DC Jain, said that they are the serving notices to farmers at the direction of their senior officers.

“The 250 farmers had received the benefit under Jai Kisan Fasal Rin Maafi Yojna in the first phase. To maintain regular accounts of the farmers, who had taken farm loan but didn’t repay it, we served the notices to them,” Jain said. “Once they will get the benefit of loan waiver scheme, we will return the amount after deducting the interest but for now they have to repay the loan,” he added.

Farmer welfare and agriculture department’s principal secretary Ajit Kesari said he had no idea about the notice.

“I don’t know about any such notice but we are soon going to start the second phase of loan waiver scheme and the genuine farmers will definitely get benefit under the scheme,” he added.

The state minister of public relation PC Sharma also said he was not aware of any such letter. “But my appeal to farmers is that they shouldn’t get panicky with any such letter. The government will fulfil its promise,” Sharma said.

The BJP said the Congress party has betrayed farmers by making fake poll promises and that it will stage a protest on September 11 in every district headquarters against the state government.

“The Congress-led state government failed to fulfil the promise of loan waiver even after nine months. The BJP will support the farmers, women, businessmen, youth and other residents of MP to make the government realise its failure,” the BJP leader Gopal Bhargava and leader of opposition in the state assembly said.