YSR Congress president Jagan Mohan Reddy and 58 opposition MLAs were suspended from Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Friday after uproar over call money scam. 'Call money' refers to a mode of private lending where loan is made available instantly at borrower's doorstep but at exorbitant rates of interest, and the lender can demand repayment anytime over a call.
Jagan accused chief minister Chandrababu Naidu of trying to divert attention from the issue. “Money was given to downtrodden women at high interest rates and they were forced into sex racket when they failed to pay. We'll stall Parliament if call money issue is not discussed," said Jagan.
Nineteen people have been arrested in connection with the 'call money' racket and over Rs 23 lakh cash seized from them, police said on Friday. The 19 people were arrested from different areas of the district last evening during raids and searches conducted on unlicensed businessmen who were collecting high interest from the borrowers, Rajahmundry (Urban) Superintendent of Police S Harikrishna said.
During the raids, police also seized Rs 23,20,500 cash, 447 signed blank promissory notes, 80 signed blank cheques, 60 blanked signed white papers, a General Power of Attorney and 26 other miscellaneous documents, the SP said. A total of 18 cases have been registered against the 19 accused who were produced in a local court today, which remanded them in 14-day police custody. The arrested persons include two rowdy-sheeters. Besides, two more cases of alleged harassment by 'call money' operators were also registered on a complaint lodged by some people and an inquiry was on in them, Harikrishna said.
Out of the Rs 23,20,500 seized from the arrested persons, Rs 18 lakh was handed over to the Income Tax department as the accused could not show any valid documents of the money in their possession, he said. Notably, the 'call money' racket issue rocked the Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Thursday leading to its adjournment and suspension of two YSR Congress MLAs for two days even as police picked up promoters of two private finance companies in Visakhapatnam in connection with the scam.
The state government has decided to order a judicial probe into the illegal private lending and alleged sexual exploitation of women borrowers in some cases. So far, over 80 call money operators have been arrested across the state, of whom 27 had links allegedly with YSR Congress, six with TDP and three with CPI, according to Information Minister Palle Raghunadha Reddy.