The manager of the Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) branch at Jayamkondam was transferred to its regional office in Tiruchi on Monday, following an allegation by a retired senior civil surgeon that the former refused to entertain his loan application as he couldn’t speak Hindi. The incident triggered strong reactions from leaders of political parties in Tamil Nadu, who condemned the alleged actions of the manager Vishal Kamble.
However, the bank authorities claimed that the loan application was rejected in view of the advanced age of the customer.
Dr. Balasubramanian, who said he was a long-standing customer of the bank, showed some property documents to the manager for consideration of surety for the loan. However, the manager reportedly asked him whether he knew Hindi and allegedly refused to entertain his application, citing the “language problem”.
Dr. Balasubramanian claimed he had informed the manager that he knew Tamil and English, but Mr. Kamble had told him that he was from Maharashtra, and could not go through the documents in Tamil due to the language problem.
Miffed at his reply, Mr. Balasubramanian has sought an explanation from the bank authorities for invoking “language [as an] issue” while processing a loan application.
“Sanctioning a loan is the prerogative of the bank. But the question of whether I knew Hindi or not was irrelevant to the processing of the loan application. However, the manager kept telling me that he could not go through the document as he was from Maharashtra and was comfortable [only] in Hindi. It pained me a lot,” Dr. Balasubramanian said.
Mr. Kamble refused to comment, saying he was not authorised to speak to the media.
S. Prem Kumar, Senior Regional Manager, IOB, Tiruchi, told The Hindu that a detailed inquiry was conducted over the allegation, and the customer had probably misunderstood the manager. The manager had declined the loan on the ground that the bank’s norms did not permit the sanctioning of loans for customers above 70 years of age. The manager had so far sanctioned loan to 1,400 persons in the branch in the last two years, he said.
In its order transferring Mr. Kamble to Tiruchi with immediate effect, the bank did not mention any reason for the same.