India: Farmers in Karnataka ‘auction’ off billionaires’ assets, demand waiver of their loans

Over 100 Karnataka farmers symbolically ‘auctioned off’ UB city, a landmark building in Bengaluru. The building that belongs to Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya was attached by the Enforcement Directorate in June this year.

On Wednesday, members of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (a leading farmer’s organisation) and Karnataka Jana Shakti protested at UB City, demanding that the government should write off farmers’ loans, just like the Vijay Mallya’s loans were written off by SBI.

The city police detained 80 protesters and released them in the evening.

“The state government just watched while the ‘proclaimed offender’ lived a tension-free life,” says Vasu, head of Karnataka Jana Shakti.

The protesters conducted a mock auction of UB city and other properties of the liquor baron, which are together being valued at Rs 12,000 crore by the Enforcement Directorate.

“Data from Enforcement Directorate shows that the three towers of UB City, the commercial area and parking area are valued at around Rs 7,000 crore. Mallya also owns three apartments in Richmond Town that are valued at Rs 5,000 crore. This totals to Rs 12,000 crore, which is almost equal to co-operative loans of farmers,” Vasu said.

“RBI approved the write off of corporate loans to the tune of Rs 1.14 lakh crores. This included the loans of a person who has put liquor in people’s bellies. And all option that central and state government gives the farmers is suicide,” Vasu said.

Vasu adds that farmers’ loans with co-operative banks have piled up to Rs 12,000 crores, and loans from nationalised banks over three years has run up to Rs 35,000 crore.

This is an abdriged version of a story that appeared in The News Minute on 30.11.2016. To read the full story, click here