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Hazaribagh: Pregnant Woman Dies After Being Mowed Down by Loan Recovery Agents

The victim was allegedly trying to stop recovery agents from seizing her father's tractor when they ran her over.

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A 22-year-old pregnant woman died in Jharkhand's Hazaribagh district after she was run over with a tractor by loan recovery agents, on Thursday, 15 September, district police said.

The incident took place allegedly when employees of a private finance company were seizing her father's farming vehicle over non-payment of loans. The victim was reportedly two months pregnant, and was visiting her father Mithilesh Kumar Mehta, a differently-abled farmer.

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Was Prompt in Paying Loan Till COVID, Says Woman's Father

Mithilesh Kumar Mehta, the victim's father is a farmer. Speaking to The Quint, he said, "We had a taken a loan of Rs 14,344 per month from the finance company and bought the tractor. I was supposed to pay the money in 44 instalments. I have been prompt in paying them until the lockdown was imposed due to COVID-19. I haven't been able to pay for the last six months."

In July, Mehta was asked by finance recovery agents from Mahindra Finance to pay a total of Rs 1.2 lakh to settle the dues. However, when he reached the financier's office on 18 July with a pre-approved amount, the finance company demanded an extra Rs 10,000 to clear the pending payment.

When they refused to accept the agreed-upon amount of Rs 1.2 lakh, Mehta says he requested them for an extension till 22 September. The finance company's agents allegedly agreed to.

However, on 15 September, recovery agents barged into Mehta's house while he was away working in the fields.

Mehta's daughter Monika allegedly rushed outside after hearing the men enter, just in time to witness the recovery agents taking away the tractor parked outside their house. Before the pregnant Monika could stop them or reach her father to inform him, the recovery agents had taken the tractor away.

Victim Was Run Over Twice

Mehta added that he and his daughter followed the agents on his bike and caught up with them near the neighbouring village of Bariath. However, he added that his efforts to reason with them to take his money and return his tractor, fell on deaf ears. He adds that the men tried to intimidate him with fatal "consequences."

"The same person who threatened me, ran my daughter over with my tractor," he added.

The finance recovery agent allegedly did not stop after mowing down the victim and, in fact, reversed the vehicle and ran her over again.

Her father Mehta, immediately called an ambulance and took Monika to a local hospital from where she was referred to RIMS Ranchi, where she was declared brought dead.

"The 27-year-old woman also later ran after the tractor, and was crushed under its wheels," the superintendent of police said, according to PTI.

Manoj Ratan Chothe, Superintendent of Police, Hazaribagh, told The Quint, "We have registered a case under IPC section 302 (murder) and are probing the matter. The woman was run over by a private vehicle and we have registered a case against four people. The family could identify one of the accused, while the other three haven't been named yet. We are investigating thoroughly and arrests will soon be made."

Mahindra Group CEO, Anish Shah, in a statement on behalf of the company wrote, "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," added.

(With inputs from PTI).

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