Note ban: Long queues return outside banks
People across Delhi and NCR queued up in huge numbers outside banks and ATMs on Saturday to collect some cash before the weekend. As most of the ATMs were out of cash, people said that they preferred to visit the bank.
On the other hand, Pakistan has lodged a strong protest with India over its diplomats in the High Commission in Delhi allegedly not being allowed to withdraw their salaries, which is paid in US dollars, by the bank.
Asserting that not allowing its officials to withdraw their salaries was in breach of Vienna Protocol, Pakistan has also threatened that in case the matter is not resolved soon, it may consider retaliatory action against salary disbursal for Indian diplomats there.
RBL Bank, an Indian private bank, holds the salary account of the Pakistan High Commission staff. “We are not allowed to withdraw our own salary. It is not a demonetisation issue. It appears that it is done more at the instructions of the Indian government,” a senior Pakistan High Commission said.
Another incident was reported from Kanpur Dehat district, where a 30-year-old woman delivered a baby girl inside a bank in Kanpur Dehat district where she had been waiting in a queue with her mother-in-law to withdraw money for two consecutive days.
The police later took the mother and child to a hospital because the ambulance couldn’t reach the bank in Jhinjhak. The newborn is healthy. “The mother is weak but the baby is healthy,” Sarvesha’s mother-in-law said, adding she was recuperating in the hospital. Sarvesha’s husband reportedly died in an accident earlier this year and she was at the bank to collect the first Rs 2.75 lakh installment of the compensation allotted to her by the government.
She had gone to the bank on Thursday as well but couldn’t withdraw money. On Friday, she was waiting in the queue when around 4 pm she went into labour. “I was afraid that I may lose Sarvesha but she delivered a beautiful baby,” Sarvesha’s relieved mother-in-law added.
Every since the ban of high-value notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 came into effect, people have been queuing up in large numbers at banks and ATMs to withdraw and exchange cash across the country. There have been reports of people dying of exhaustion and other ailments while waiting for their turn. Short supply of currency notes at banks and ATMs that run dry as soon as they are replenished has added to the chaos.
A customer standing outside a bank in South Delhi said: “ATMs in my locality didn’t dispense any cash this morning. I had to visit the bank to withdraw money. Also, because the withdrawal limit is Rs 24,000 in banks, it will help meet my needs till the middle of this month... There is nothing new. These long queues have become such a routine thing now. There is nothing we commoners can do about it. We feel so helpless.”
The scenario was similar in banks across the city. People showed extreme anger over the long queues and about banks setting arbitrary withdrawal limits. The correspondent found that people, frustrated with the long wait, were requesting bank officials to count the notes faster and make transactions as quick as possible.
FM knew about demonetisation in advance: Goyal
Dispelling rumours that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was unaware of demonetisation, Power Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday said he knew it and kept it as secret despite being “very friendly and open”. “When the bombshell (demonetisation) came... Everybody wanted to know how Mr Jaitley could keep the secret so well. This is the kind of commitment a tall leader has... when the time comes, they keep (an important information) secret from everybody,” Goyal said on Saturday.
Asked whether Jaitley knew it, he replied: “Yes obviously. He is the Finance minister.” Goyal also indicated that the government will take stern action against those who are misusing the concessions given to honest people.
Meanwhile, launching a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP government, BSP supremo Mayawati on Saturday said the note ban drive is nothing but political propaganda and the Centre is trying to earn brownie points from it. Addressing a press conference, Mayawati said: “Samajwadi Bahujan Samaj Party is completely against black money and corruption, but it doesn’t back the Centre’s decision to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as it is mere a political propaganda.”