A total of 1,937 complaints have been registered against loan sharks across the country till August 21, with the highest (1,330) filed in Madhesh province.
On August 13, the government had asked victims of loan sharks to file their complaints with their respective district administration offices by August 21.
This decision follows the formation of a task force to study the situation of victims and determine how these financial crimes can be controlled after victims from various districts traveled to Kathmandu to seek justice.
Victims have been demonstrating in Maitighar for three weeks demanding justice.
The Home Ministry also formed a six-member task force led by Joint Secretary Bhishma Bhusal on August 12 to investigate the matter and study how such crimes can be checked.
“The total number of registered complaints till August 21 is 1,937, with the highest number of complaints – 1330 – in Madhesh province,” said Bhishma Bhusal, the task force coordinator.
As many as 60 victims have regularly demonstrated in Maitighar, rain or shine, demanding tough action against loan sharks.
The government-formed task force has accelerated the investigation and prosecution process of financial criminals, task force members say.
The task force includes Chief Superintendent Dinesh Acharya who is part of the Nepal Police Central Bureau of Investigation; Ministry of Interior Under Secretary Shree Krishna Poudel; Superintendent Krishna Prasad Koirala of the Nepal Police Criminal Investigation Section; and Deputy Director of Investigations National Investigation Department Mukunda Marahattha as members.
A loan shark is a person or group that lends money at extremely high interest rates. To recover their debts, they often resort to threats and violence.
The task force held a meeting on Monday to discuss how they can work on the ground to investigate complaints.
Bhusal, coordinator of the task force, says they will be taking complaints from victims on a regular basis and have worked until the deadline to draw up an overview of the situation. “The process of registering complaints and taking action will be continuous, as these crimes may also occur in the future,” Bhusal told the Post.
Chief Superintendent Dinesh Acharya, a member of the task force, says they have already started taking action against these criminals in different districts.
“We have already begun the process of arresting and incarcerating the perpetrators,” Acharya told the Post. “The task force will further investigate the nature of the crimes and possible actions that could be taken now and in the future.”
The task force is also in discussion with the victims protesting in Kathmandu. “We asked them to go home and cooperate with us in our investigation,” Bhusal said.
So far, the task force has collected data on loan sharking from all districts, and discussions on survey modalities and actions are ongoing, say task force members with whom the Post interviewed. “We will inform CDOs of the action to be taken urgently,” Bhusal said.
The working group had a month to find a concrete solution to the problem and take the necessary measures – ten days have already passed. “We are working day and night to resolve the issue within the remaining 20 days,” Bhusal said.
Victims of the “meter byaj” protesting in Maitighar have been staying in a temporary shelter in Kirtipur, southwest of Kathmandu.
Ram Surat Gupta, chairman of the protest group Meter Byaj Kisan Sangharsha Samiti, said he spoke with officials from the Interior Ministry on Monday. “Officials have promised to sort things out and are looking for the criminals as some of them have already fled.”
As the government has all the resources and the power, adds Gupta, if they work properly, they can arrest and take action against loan sharks in a day. “We will see how they act. Until then, we will continue the protest,” Gupta told the Post.