Sita Rani (name changed) President of the Gram Vikas SHG Tigja told that her son Anand(name changed) had taken an advance of Rs. 1500 few years back from Ramesh Singh(name changed), a stone quarry contractor. After taking the advance Anand started breaking stones on his illegal mining site. He was being paid simply the amount to meet his daily requirements, in the name of kharcha, which was about quarter to the prevailing market wage rate. He worked there for about seven years but total amount of the loan remained unchanged. The contractor never paid the price of stones broken by him in full to him so he could not pay back the bad debts and continued to work under bondage situations.
Anand thought if he continued selling his produce to Ramesh then neither he would be able to pay back the advance nor he would be able live freely. So one day he sold out his produce to another contractor on a higher price. When Ramesh Singh, lender-contractor came to know he became angry and started abusing and beating him along with his driver named Bau. Ramesh snatched the money from Anand and said “go and bring the principal amount with interest otherwise we will beat you again”.
Sita Rani raised her son’s woes in the Teras Chaura. After collecting complete information the Legal Aid Centre filed a complaint at Meja Police Station on 1-6-18 against the contractor Ramesh Singh. The Station Officer sent a notice to Ramesh Singh for appearance at the police station on a due date but he did not appear. Police was raiding Ramesh Singh’s house daily day and night. The police conducted nearly eight raids repeatedly. Ramesh got frustrated and went to Anand’s residence and started repenting on his deeds. He was requesting to Anand,“ please forgive me”. Ramesh got convinced for forgiving him and consequently Sita Rani and Anand agreed for compromise.
However, another group member Sudha Rani suggested that any compromise should be taken in the presence of LAC coordinator Ram Prasad. Then Ramesh Singh asked the contact number of Ram Prasad from Sudha Rani. After getting the number the sister of Ramesh Singh called upon to Ram Prasad and requested that please help her brother. She said, “I know he has done wrong with Anand, he must be punished for his act but if he goes to jail it would be our biggest insult, please pardon him and proceed for compromise at the police station”. She was assuring that he would not repeat such behavior again. The wife of the contractor also called upon to Ram Prasad and requested to forgive her husband. Finally, the accused Ramesh Singh called himself to Ram Prasad saying please forgive him because police has restricted him going to the mining site for the last fifteen days. He was upset and said, “he is struggling with loss and his family is facing insults in the society”. He was repeatedly requesting for reaching the Police station at the earliest and managing the compromise proceedings.
Both parties were agreed. Sita Rani (name changed) and Sudha Rani (name changed) also gave their consent to Ram Prasad to proceed for compromise. Ram Prasad and both the parties went to Meja Police station and in the presence of Station Officer Proceeding of compromise were completed. Ramesh Singh assured Ramanad in front of the Station Officer that he would never demand any money from Anand, he would never harass him, and instead whenever needed he would support Anand free of cost. LAC coordinator, SHG members and the family members of the contractor were witness to all the proceedings.
Ramanad is now free from all bad debts. Now he is working on a legal mining site of another contractor and earning Rs. 300-400 per day, which is 4 to 5 times higher than the earnings at Ramesh Singh’s illegal site. He is living happily with his wife and two children. Children are attending school regularly
His mother has purchased two goats and wife has started working as farm labourer freely.
Interestingly, Ramesh Singh’s behavior has also changed substantially. Now he is not behaving rudely with laborers. He is not disturbing facilitators of federation to visit and meet with workers at his site for forming an SHG. He has understood the strength of the SHG federation. He prefers to keep good relations with SHG leaders.
SHG members are full of enthusiasm, as they had won the battle against a muscleman without violence through legal means and collective negotiations. It was an important shift in power of balance at local level.