Thiruvananthapuram: Loan sharks are rearing their heads again in the state as the much-hyped Operation Kubera lost its steam. Collection agents of the parallel money lending rackets are making their presence in public, as the new government is yet to decide on any similar action plans.
It was following the suicide of a five-member family in the state capital under pressure from loan sharks in May 2014, the then home minister Ramesh Chennithala launched 'Operation Kubera'. Subsequently, the police began a crackdown on illegal money lenders fleecing people in need of money by offering quick loans at exorbitant rates across the state.
They recovered hundreds of title deeds, blank cheques, promissory notes and Rs 4.94 crore in cash and arrested 2,594 fly-by-night lenders. Charge sheets were filed against 2,459 and 1,373 remanded. It also exposed the police-blade mafia nexus, and seven officers faced disciplinary action.
There were even widespread allegations of police misusing 'Operation Kubera' to mount unholy pressure on those who had lent money for legitimate purposes. The government even announced the holding of adalats in districts to consider complaints against the blade mafia.
But all these initiates lost the steam, reportedly after the police knocked on the doors of some UDF politicians. Some of those held in Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Kannur were allegedly having close UDF links.
"It is true that the proactive drive of police against loan sharks is on the backburner for quite some time. Actions are taken on specific complaints only," a senior officer said. Sources at the chief minister's office said specific action plans against various issues would be there in the due course.
"We are in the process of reviewing the functioning of the police," said the official. Loknath Behera, the new state police chief, said Operation Kubera would be either taken forward in its present form or, if there were any lacuna, necessary changes would be made.
Money lenders are now visibly present again at many markets offering daily loans to traders. They are however dealing quite cautiously. “Especially while making big transactions, the lenders are dealing with caution. The profile of the customers are checked before making the deals,” said a trader in Chalai market here.