In Kashmir, there are no queues outside ATMs, and the banks are doing routine business. According to economists, bankers and traders, this calm can be attribute to “clean money”, the four-month-long shutdown, good bank coverage and 2,000 bank branches in the Valley.
After the demonetisation announcement, a rush of customers was initially observed at some banks. However, after three or four days, it was business as usual and bankers heaved a sigh of relief.
“When we see long queues on TV, we consider ourselves lucky. For the past few days, we have had normal business. Customers do not have to wait more than 10 minutes,” said a manager in the HDFC Bank branch at Residency Road. Pointing to the ATM, the manager said. “We are happy to see not more than two or three people waiting for cash.”
Economist and former head of the department of economics at Kashmir University, professor Nisar Ali, told The Indian Express that most people in Kashmir have bank accounts. “Also, due to the four-month unrest, the economy was on hold. Traders do not need cash. And, there is no black money in cash here. The black money is in real estate, so we don’t find any rush outside banks.”
Sajjad Bazaz, corporate communications head of J&K Bank, said that most people in Kashmir do not keep cash at home due to the turmoil and prefer banks. “After the notes were scrapped, cash deposits in banks increased in the state,” he said.
He added that J&K Bank had launched a massive awareness campaign. “Proper awareness and bank accounts in households were the main reasons why people didn’t panic.”
Shakeel Qalender, a businessman, said, “We have a workforce of around 42.5 lakh and 90 per cent of them are bank account holders. Of them, 58 per cent are related to agriculture and allied sectors and 42 per cent to public enterprises sectors.”
Since the militancy of the 1990s, there were frequent crackdowns and raids, he said. “So people started keeping money in banks.”