"the employees of the company went to his house"
A pregnant woman was knocked and crushed by a tractor by finance officials who had been looking to recover a debt owed by her father.
The incident happened in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh district.
The victim was identified as 22-year-old Monika Kumari, who was two months pregnant.
It was reported that the officials were from Team Lease, whose parent company is Mahindra Finance.
Monika’s father Mithilesh Mehta had taken out a loan in 2018 and was supposed to pay it back in 44 instalments of approximately £155 each.
However, Mithilesh said he has not been able to repay six months’ worth of the debt due to the pandemic.
On September 15, 2022, four employees from the finance company turned up at Mithilesh’s home.
A police officer said: “The farmer [Mehta] could not pay the next six instalments, but the final settlement came to around Rs 1.2 lakh [Rs 120,000 or £1,300].
“When the farmer went to settle the amount, the company demanded Rs 10,000 (£110) more.”
According to a family member, the debt collectors became angry when Mithilesh asked to see some identity.
Things escalated when they said they would seize the family’s tractor.
The official continued: “So the farmer left without paying the amount. However, later, it was decided that the farmer would pay Rs 1.2 lakh by September 22.
“But the employees of the company went to his house to seize the tractor on September 15.”
The men took the vehicle but Mithilesh and his pregnant daughter managed to catch up with them in a nearby village.
An argument soon broke out and amid the chaos, Monika was run over by the tractor.
The debt collectors then fled the scene.
Monika was rushed to hospital, however, she was declared dead.
A murder case was registered against the four accused and one of them was later arrested. The man was identified as 26-year-old Roshan Kumar Dev.
Ichak Police Station officer-in-charge Dhananjay Singh said:
“Roshan is among the four named in the FIR filed after the death of Monika Devi.”
Raids are currently on to arrest the other three suspects.
Union Minister Annapurna Devi and CPI state council member Bhuvaneshvar Mehta met the bereaved family members and strongly condemned the incident.
The incident has sparked outrage among villagers who have demanded strict action against the debt collectors and the company.
In a statement on Twitter, Mahindra group’s chief executive Anish Shah said:
“We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the Hazaribagh incident. A human tragedy has occurred.”
“We will investigate this incident from all aspects and will also undertake an examination of the practice of using third-party collection agencies that have been in existence.
“We will extend all possible support to the authorities during the investigation into this tragic incident, and above all, we stand with the family in this moment of grief.”