Indian farmer crushed to death as tractor seized over debts

NEW DELHI, India – An Indian farmer was crushed to death under his tractor as finance company officials drove away with it over $1,400 in unpaid debts, police said Monday, January 22.

Police are hunting 5 loan recovery agents who could be charged with murder in a case that highlights the debt crisis faced by the country's farmers.

The 45-year-old farmer scuffled with the loan agents and fell off the tractor as it was being driven out of his field in the Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh state on Saturday.

The farmer had borrowed 500,000 rupees ($7,800) last year to buy the tractor but failed to make repayments totaling $1,400, police said.

"He tried to stop them by clinging to the tractor but fell off, fell under the wheels and died on the spot," police officer Mohammad Jawed Khan told Agence France-Presse, adding that the agents and the tractor were missing.

Police are investigating the role of senior officials at the financier Larsen & Toubro. The company did not immediately comment.

Private financiers and banks are often accused of using strong-arm tactics against defaulting customers in India, often resorting to threats.

In October, a debt-ridden laborer set himself and his 3 family members ablaze after being hounded by a loan shark in Tamil Nadu state.

Tens of thousands of low-income farmers, denied loans by banks, rely on private lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates. Hundreds of farmers commit suicide each year blaming their debts. –