A woman and her daughter died after setting themselves on fire in Thiruvanathapuram, fearing that the bank would impound their house, the Kerala Police said on Tuesday. The woman was identified as Latha, while her daughter was identified as 19-year-old Vyshnavi, The News Minute reported.
While Vyshnavi died on the spot, 40-year-old Latha suffered 90% burns and was taken to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College and Hospital, where she died, PTI reported.
The woman’s husband, Chandran, told the police that Canara Bank had been pressuring the family to repay their dues. He said that he had taken a housing loan of Rs 5 lakh from Canara Bank in 2005 but had already repaid Rs 8 lakh.
“Since there was some default, about Rs 6 lakh was pending and the bank had threatened to attach our property,” Chandran told reporters. He said the family had asked for time from the bank to sell off their property to repay the amount.
Chandran alleged that instead, bank officials continually called up his wife on Tuesday, demanding that they repay the amount or face attachment of their property. He was not at home when the incident took place.
However, the bank refuted Chandran’s claim that it had threatened the family. Canara Bank officials said that an advocate commission, appointed by a local court, had visited the house on May 10 to attach their residence and other property. At this time, the family informed them that the dues of Rs 6.80 lakh would be repaid on May 14.
State Finance Minister TM Thomas Issac expressed shock over the incident. “Even in the last bankers’ level meeting the government told banks not to attach houses in case of any default and deal such issues with a human touch,” Issac said, according to the Hindustan Times. He said the government will look into the case and ensure compensation to the family.
K Hareendran, the MLC for Parassala constituency in Thiruvananthapuram, told Manorama Online he had spoken to bank officials and procured more time for the family to repay their loans. “I had talked to the bank manager after panchayat president asked me to intervene on behalf of the family,” he said. Hareendran alleged that Canara Bank disregarded the assurance it had given him.