Gujarat: As crowds swell at banks, people clash with officials

“Officials said they have run out of new Rs 2,000 notes and they only have coins for exchange,” said Bipin Patel, who came to exchange his notes at one bank branch

Written by JIGAR JOSHI | Ahmedabad | Updated: December 2, 2016 8:23 pm
Gujarat Banks, Gujarat bank ques, demonetisation news, latest news, India news People queue up at an ATM in Ahmedabad on Saturday. Salman Raja

People clashed with bank officials at several places across Gujarat on Saturday, leading to police action, including lathi-charge and detention. Long queues continued outside bank branches across the state on Saturday. People complained of difficulties with several ATMs remaining closed, and banks exchanging the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes with coins and small denomination currency. “Nobody is accepting old currency notes, even hospitals are now refusing to do so because of which we are facing difficulty. Several ATMs still remain closed,” said Ramesh Agarwal, who came to exchange his old notes at a bank. People also complained that they were given coins in exchange for old notes.”

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“Officials said they have run out of new Rs 2,000 notes and they only have coins for exchange,” said Bipin Patel, who came to exchange his notes at one bank branch. “They have given me coins of Rs 4,000 which is very difficult to carry,” he said.

Rajesh Shah, a senior citizen, said lack of money has caused hardship in purchasing essential items such as milk, bread and vegetables. “We stood in queues for two days to get our old currency exchanged. We have Rs 3 lakh in bank account, but we are unable to purchase essential items. Modi should first have made proper arrangement for cash before declaring this,” said Shah.

At several places people clashed with bank officials leading to police action, including lathi-charge and detention. At a bank branch at Shihori in Banaskantha district, police resorted to lathi-charge after people clashed with bank officials when they refused to dispense money. Similar incident was reported at a bank branch in Abdasa in Kutch when people clashed with bank officials. There were many, however, who were happy to get the new Rs 2,000 notes and shared their photos with new notes on social media. “It was a delightful moment to hold the Rs 2,000 note. It is light, small and attractive. I liked the ‘Swachh Bharat’ logo the most. I immediately uploaded my selfie with it on Facebook,” said Sultan Bhusara, 23, a student. While some found it “too thin”, many thought it was “modern” and women thought the colour indicated “women’s empowerment”! Kalpesh Kalal, 21, a BA student, said, “The new note is lot thinner and lighter. It feels like a dollar. So even if you have less, you will have more and one can manage them properly.”

Prashant Agrawal, 30 , a businessman, proudly showed off the new currency note and said its design matched that of “developed countries” and that the magenta looked “vibrant”. But some women thought the note was pink. Jagruti Trivedi, 26, programme assistant at Doordarshan, said, “I liked the colour. It looks like it is dedicated to women empowerment because of its pink colour.”

On the other side of the euphoria , the thinness of the note is disappointing and it is likely to be of less use for small expenses. Haresh Kanjani, 35, owner of a mobile shop, said the new note felt like one from “children’s game”. He added, “The new note of Rs 2,000 feels very rough, compared to the new note of Rs 20. It does not seem to look as rich when you compare it with the old Rs 1,000 note.” Suryakantbhai Rana, 40, who drives a rickshaw, said it looked “duplicate”.

Since people have not received the new Rs 500 notes from the banks yet, they are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Rana said, “It has become tough to transact with such a large denomination note.” Rajubhai Sen, 37, who runs a salon, said it would be difficult to get change. “The question of change will be solved when the government will reintroduce Rs 1,000 in the future,” said Kanjani. Haresh Solanki, 37-year-old businessman, said, “The absence of Rs 1,000 will be felt more in smaller transactions than bigger.” Moulika Danak, 22, a student, said that since there would be less notes to handle, it would become a bit easier and pocket-friendly.

With PTI INPUTS