Efforts by the cooperative department and Osmanabad police are on to ascertain the proportion of the money lending business of Dattatraya alias Pappu Madake, accused of abetting the suicide of Sunil Mutkule, a 21 year old farmer from Osmanabad, Maharashtra.
Madake did not have the legal licence for money lending, but enjoyed clout with the local police and the officers of the cooperative department. Nobody dared to rescue Mutkule when he was being beaten up in front of a crowd as people were scared of Madake and his gang of goons.
Bansode, a joint registrar with the cooperative department in Osmanabad, raided Madake's house and seized two bags full of diaries, promissory notes, more than 500 handwritten chits and statements regarding the money lent and the interest recovered. Besides, a few land purchase deeds and vehicles, believed to be part of the forcible recoveries made towards the interest he charged, were also seized from his house.
"We were shocked to find that in most of the cases, Madake seems to have charged 15 to 20 per cent interest per day on the amounts he lent. So far, we have managed to put together a total sum of over Rs 60 lakh, lent to more than 500 people," Bansode said.
Madake has been remanded in custody, but his two accomplices are on the run.
Sudhakar Zori, a social activist said, "More than 300 villagers from Moha village alone were in the clutches of money lenders. Most of the suicides in Osmanabad were due to the harassment by money lenders and rarely because of the banks."
Connivance of police and cooperative department officials with illegal money lenders has increased the severity of this menace.
The investigating officers have been putting together the transaction chits written by Madake on cards sheets and it took more than 40 such sheets to complete the process.
Bansode said he has never seen anyone charging such exorbitant amounts as interest and added that the fear Madake may have created in those who have borrowed money from him can only be imagined.
The medical officer who examined the body of the deceased had found 17 serious injuries—on his legs, inner thighs, pelvic bone, back, neck and head.
Seeing the serious nature of the case, the district judge has initiated suo moto proceedings and called the parents of the deceased, Shankar Mutkule and Daivashala Mutkule, to record their statements.
Osmanabad district has witnessed over 103 suicides this year owing to the harassment by illegal money lenders.