Ahmedabad, July 29: In a dramatic and tragic incident, a Gujarat courtroom, full of lawyers, judges, and witnesses, witnessed four victims of a notorious loan fraud scandal making an attempt on their own lives, transforming a court hearing into a heart-wrenching scene. The catalyst for this tragedy has been an epidemic of financial fraud that plagues Gujarat, bleeding citizens of between Rs 1 crore and Rs 1.2 crore daily. The merciless claws of online swindling schemes and vicious loan apps have left many stripped of their life savings.
In the eye of the storm were Ahmedabad’s Shaileshbhai Ishwarbhai Panchal, Jayshreeben Panchal, Manojbhai Vaishnav, and Hardikbhai Amaratbhai Patel, who ingested phenyl in a desperate cry for justice as the accused obtained anticipatory bail. The proceedings at the Gujarat High Court were abruptly adjourned after the alarming incident in June.
The distressed quartet, defrauded out of Rs 1.6 crore in their name by the accused, were quickly whisked to a local hospital where they were declared stable. They claim their signatures were forged to illicitly secure loans from a cooperative bank in Ahmedabad, leaving them teetering on the brink of financial ruin.
These weren't high-flyers or gullible gamblers, but ordinary citizens making a modest living. Jayshreeben Patel, a domestic worker, and her auto-rickshaw driver husband Shaileshbhai, were duped into mortgaging their inherited property and their own house in Nikol for a loan they never received.
The twisted tale began when they needed Rs 20 lakh for a cancer treatment. In their hour of need, they were introduced to loan consultant, Chintan Shah, who allegedly conned them into mortgaging their properties. The bank supposedly approved a loan of Rs 1.6 crore without their knowledge or consent, an amount that was then reportedly funneled out of their accounts through forged signatures.
The ordeal culminated in a dramatic climax in the court of Justice Nirzar Desai, where the defrauded victims consumed poison, pushing the courtroom into chaos. Advocate Sachin Rajgor, representing the distressed victims, confirmed that two of them, Manojbhai Vaishnav and Hardikbhai Patel, were also victims of the same financial fraud. As the gavel fell in the courtroom that day, it served as a grim reminder of the human cost of financial fraud.
In 2022, Gujarat's Cyber Crime Cell recorded about 12,500 complaints in a single month spanning financial frauds to stalking, according to a police statement. The complaints were received through helpline number 1930 under Project Cyber Aashvast. Among these, approximately 3,338 cases identified as financial frauds amounted to Rs 3.09 crore. Swift action enabled the freezing of Rs 1.20 crore in banks and a refund of Rs 51.12 lakh to victims.