Sardar Manmohan Singh, a modest farmer in Pilibhit, 247-km from state capital Lucknow, has never met beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya nor heard of Kingfisher Airlines.
Ever since he migrated from Punjab four decades back, he has hardly set foot outside Uttar Pradesh, let alone board a flight. But in December last year, he was told that he was a ‘director’ of the now-defunct airlines and that his two bank accounts were being seized for recovery.
“I have heard his (Mallya’s) name but never met him. I have no idea how I was made the director of his company,” said Singh whose name, according to bank officials, appeared in the list of guarantors/directors of Kingfisher Airlines. The list contains nine names, including Vijay Mallya, his son Siddharth, and Singh.
“Earlier, I thought it was just due to negligence on part of bank officials but now that no action has been taken, I have started to get worried,” he said.
Mange Ram, manager of Bank of Baroda’s Nand branch in Pilibhit , said, “We received a letter to seize his (Singh’s) account for recovery of the loan amount in December last year.” The letter was sent by the bank’s regional office at Nariman Point, Mumbai.
Singh submitted a clarification letter informing the bank that he had no knowledge of the loan, requesting it to reopen his accounts.
“The bank officials said that my account would be reopened but they have done nothing. I have Rs 4,000 in one account and Rs 1,217 in another. How will they recover loan worth crores from my accounts?” said Singh, who claimed his family’s annual income is not more than Rs 3 lakh.
Manmohan Singh’s house in Pilibhit. (HT Photo)
Reportedly, Singh owns eight acre of farmland. He had deposited papers of his land as security to secure a loan from the bank for his son’s wedding two years ago.
“I never defaulted on the loan and paid back the entire amount in instalments,” said Singh.
A spokesperson of the United Breweries group, which had launched the airlines, said the person in question was never a director in the company.
The company’s annual report in 2011-12 and 2012-13 listed one Manmohan Singh Kapur, a retired banker, an independent director in the company.
“Manmohan Singh Kapur holds degrees of B Sc and MA from Punjab University. He is a career banker with more than 39 years of experience, mostly in the field of banking. He retired as chairman and managing director of Vijaya Bank,” the report said.