Wish good night to K.V. Kamath & his whizkids

ASHWINI A. writes from Bangalore: If a person is known by the company he keeps, how does one know a company?

Perhaps by the persons it employs?

Another day, another morning, and there is yet another story in the papers of an ICICI Bank customer, this time in Hyderabad, being mentally and physically roughed up by hired goondas of the Bank which, like so many other banks, outsources its defaults payment collection to a private firm and keeps its cost-conscious conscience clean.

Nothing surprising, maybe, to those who believe this is the only way of collecting dues in a land of compulsive defaulters like ours.

Nothing surprising, maybe, to most people who have become used to the strong-arm tactics of goondas who drive away defaulters’ cars at traffic signals.

And nothing surprising, maybe, to most people who have become helpless at the hands of the police and judiciary which conveniently look the other way.

Except…

Except that all the action of the white-collar thugs in this case was directed at Y. Yadaiah, a 42-year-old hapless Andhra government employee, who had borrowed a princely sum of Rs 15,000 from ICICI Bank, which last week collected Rs 20,000 crore in a Follow-on Public Offer.

And except—sorry to bother you with this small detail, Mr Kundapur V. Kamath—and except that the man passed away/ breathed his last/ died shortly after making a call to his wife stating that he would not be allowed to come home till he returned the Rs 15,000.

Yes, dead and gone. Probably because of the treatment meted out to him by the goondas. Probably out of humiliation. But yes, dead and gone.

ICICI Bank, of course, fantastically claims that Yadaiah himself had gone to the recovery agent’s office on his own to make the payment for the overdue instalments.

“We are informed that during the interaction with the representatives of the agency he felt unwell and requested to be accompanied to a doctor. We are further informed that the agency representatives had provided all possible support for his medical treatment.”

Yadaiah’s widow and the Police have a different story to tell. But no arrests have been made by the police despite the fact that the person died in illegal custody.

And no arrests have been made despite the tacit admittance of its guilt in the matter by ICICI Bank which, stung by the controversy—not genuine regret, remorse or other such human emotions—has announced a compensation of Rs. 15 lakh for the victim’s family.

Should not there be a law to tackle this goonda raj?

Is a loan—that is usually forced upon customers by credit card companies and banks—a ticket to torture and trauma (and death if one is less fortunate)?

And Mr Kamath and his whizkids who are so happy launching IPOs and FPOs and rubbing shoulders with the Prime Minister and other stars of the galaxy, we have just one question: do you sleep well at night?

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