Ashok Kumar, a resident of Panchkula, was watching Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech sitting comfortably in his house in Sector 2 on Tuesday evening. The announcement of discontinuation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, however, came as a shock to him. He immediately rushed to the nearest petrol pump like a large number of others. Within minutes of the announcement by the PM, residents of the Tricity started queuing up outside petrol pumps and ATMs.
“I watched the PM speech on the television. I had Rs 5,000 with me in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination. The best way to spend was to visit the petrol pump and get my fuel tank of the car filled,” said Ashok Kumar.
Many of those coming to the pump said they wanted to spend their cash. “I was going back to my home in Chandigarh and I received a call from my family that Rs 500 and 1000 notes will not work from tonight. The best way to spend it was to get my petrol tank filled in advance. The announcement is a good step to check black money,” said S K Grover, another resident.
There was panic among people with most having questions on what will happen to the money in their possession. What added to the panic was the announcement that banks will remain closed on Wednesday and ATMs for the next two days. Those who had withdrawn money today and had received notes of Rs 500 or Rs 1000 denomination were left in the lurch.
Aditya Sharma who was in a queue outside an ATM said that the decision to close the banks and ATMs on Wednesday was too sudden. “I welcome the government’s step to fight against the black money. But it has created chaos across the country. People are coming out on roads and visiting the ATMs because nothing will function tomorrow,” he said. “Government should have taken some step to avoid harassment of the public. I tried three ATMs to get Rs 100 notes and finally managed to get notes at this ATM only.”
There were many people who went from one ATM to the other in order to get Rs 100 notes. Some decided to make multiple transactions of Rs 400 each. Those who queued up outside complained that transactions were taking a long time because of this.
Vikrant, a resident of Sector 7, said that he came to seek notes of Rs 100 to buy essentials and he wanted to withdraw Rs 400 from the ATM but he could not get the money. His immediate concern was how to buy milk and other essentials in the morning as nobody will accept Rs 500 or Rs 1000 notes.
Aman, a resident of Manimajra, said that the only option left was to give cheques or use credit and debit cards. At least one day should have been given to people to make alternative arrangements. The common people were left in the lurch.
There was panic among those who had weddings and functions scheduled in the coming days. With banks and ATMs closed and there also being a restriction on withdrawls once these re-opened, people were worried about how to make payments.
A scuffle broke out at an HDFC ATM in Sector 17 after one person took time withdrawing money. The others in the queue objected to this. Two persons came to blows. It was after the intervention of the security guard that the issue was resolved. However, later, cops came and took the two to the police post.