What is kurki and why is it such a big deal in Punjab?

A 65-year-old farmer, Balwinder Singh, committed suicide outside the Muktsar DC office on August 29. He was sitting on a dharna outside the administrative complex against kurki’s orders for his land based on a court case filed against him. by the local lender for non-payment of the loan. What is kurki and why does it continue to be a big problem in Punjab?

What is Kurki?

Kurki means seizure of a farmer’s land, already pledged to the money lending institution or individual, in case of default. Besides banks, private lenders, commission agents also receive these decrees against farmers from time to time.

How is Kurki performed?

Kurki’s orders are enforced under Section 60 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908. Land pledged by the farmer to the bank or lender is registered in his name. In some cases, the land is also sold at auction. The process begins after the lender goes to court for kurki orders in case the farmer is unable to repay his loan. In kurki, the seizure of the land of the farmer as well as his tractor can be carried out in accordance with article 60.

Wasn’t kurki banned in Punjab?

Past Akali Dal and Congress governments have claimed to have banned kurki. Congress fought the 2017 Assembly polls over the slogan “karza kurki khatam, fasal di poori rakam”.

Shortly after winning the elections in 2017, the then Amarinder Singh government abolished Section 67-A of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act which allowed cooperatives to recover unpaid loans through sale to auction of land mortgaged by farmers.

“However, Sections 63-B, 63-C of the law have not been waived to prevent land seizure,” said Manjit Singh Dhaner, senior vice president of BKU (Dakaunda).

Former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal also claimed that the kurki had been abolished by his government.

Dhaner, however, accuses governments of issuing vague orders on the matter.

This is the reason, he said, why farmers continue to receive orders for kurki.

Why has a total ban on the century-old Kurki law not been achieved?

A plea filed in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in 2018 called for a complete ban on kurki.

However, the Punjab government in its affidavit said there was no need to ban kurki as relief was given to farmers in terms of loan forgiveness, compensation, etc. takes place — was over 110 years old and needed a complete overhaul.

What is the reality on the ground?

The farmers point out that they are obliged to give post-dated checks for the loan, which are then used to obtain arrest warrants issued in cases of bad checks. They also accused the money lenders of using pronotes signed by them to get kurki orders. “Pro-notes” (promissory notes) are written documents collected from farmers and signed by them when the loan is granted.

In April 2022, more than 2,000 arrest warrants were issued against farmers for non-payment of loans to cooperative societies and agricultural development banks in Punjab.

Meanwhile, more than Rs 3,200 crore is outstanding against farmers’ names in Co-operative Societies and Agricultural Development Banks in Punjab and more than 60% of farmers have not even paid a penny in the past three years, sources revealed.

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