Officials say the loan was refused due to the customer’s advanced age.

The manager of the Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) branch in Jayamkondam was transferred to his regional office in Tiruchi on Monday, following an allegation by a retired civilian surgeon that the former refused to treat his loan application because he did not speak Hindi. The incident sparked strong backlash from political party leaders in Tamil Nadu, who condemned the alleged actions of Director Vishal Kamble.

However, banking authorities claimed that the loan application was rejected due to the customer’s advanced age.

According to sources, Dr C. Balasubramanian, 76, approached Mr Kamble a few days ago, requesting a loan for the construction of a shopping complex near the bus stop in Jayamkondam. He had submitted the required documents.

Dr Balasubramanian, who said he was a long-time client of the bank, showed real estate documents to the manager so he could vouch for the loan. However, the director allegedly asked him if he knew Hindi and refused to process his application, citing the “language problem”.

Dr Balasubramanian claimed that he informed the principal that he knew Tamil and English, but Mr Kamble told him that he was from Maharashtra and that he could not read the Tamil material due to of the language problem.

Annoyed by his response, Mr. Balasubramanian asked the banking authorities for explanations for invoking “the language [as an] problem ”when processing a loan application.

“The sanction of a loan is the prerogative of the bank. But the question of whether I knew Hindi or not was not relevant for 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, ”said Dr Balasubramanian.

Mr Kamble declined to comment, saying he was not authorized to speak to the media.

S. Prem Kumar, Senior Regional Director, IOB, Tiruchi, said The Hindu that a detailed investigation had been carried out into the allegation and that the client had probably misunderstood the manager. The manager refused the loan on the grounds that the bank’s standards did not allow for the sanctioning of loans for clients over 70 years of age. The manager had so far given a loan to 1,400 people in the branch over the past two years, he said.

In its order to transfer Mr. Kamble to Tiruchi with immediate effect, the bank did not mention any reason for this.