Rush at banks continued for the second day on Friday in Jaipur, and other parts of the state as well, with people queuing up mainly to withdraw money. Most people The Indian Express spoke to said that they needed money ‘urgently’ to buy essential commodities, especially food items.
“We ran out of cooking gas and for the first time in several decades, we cooked food by burning wood,” said Mohan Lal, 35, sitting outside a government bank near Collectorate Circle in the state capital, awaiting his turn to withdraw money. With him were his colleagues and friends Ganesh, 25, Bhim Singh, 27, and Rajesh, 40, who work together selling beedis. “We have been waiting in queue for four hours while our families wait back home. Business is closed for third day now, we don’t have loose money,” said Ganesh, 25, “We need it for vegetables and milk.”
The consensus among this group is that demonetisation should have been introduced in stages. “We had gone to another bank in the morning but it ran out of cash. The government could have first ensured sufficient money in banks before the big announcement,” Ganesh said.
Another person in queue, Shripal, 42, said he needed money for groceries. Kuldeep Singh, 33, a driver, said that he makes around Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 daily over rented vehicles but he has had to forego it since “business is zero.” Shameen, waiting with her daughter, said that her husband dropped them at the bank in his auto-rickshaw as the queue for women was shorter.
As Shafi Mohammad, 42, sat down in the shade of the queue, those standing next to him said he was unwell. “I went to a SBI bank yesterday at Shastri Nagar and waited four hours only to find it had run out of cash. Today morning I went to a post office and same thing happened. Now this is my third long wait in queue,” said Shafi.
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Others around him said that the decision was supposed to target the corrupt, but the PM has targeted the common man instead. While there was a water dispensing machine outside the bank, people said they have no option but to hold their bowels or control their hunger.
None of these people, however, would have come to this particular branch, which is usually deserted, on normal days. “This branch is for High Net-worth Individuals (HNI). So, we do not get many customers. But on Thursday we had about 350 footfalls till 6 pm and the figure will be similar today. Most people are asking for Rs 100 currency notes so our staff arrives early and makes bundles of 40 notes each. We are working overtime,” said a bank official who did not wish to be named.
By afternoon, however, though the banks remained open, most ATMs had run out of cash. People then started thronging the banks. By evening, Ahinsa Circle witnessed huge rush as the locality has a few banks. Most people went from one bank to another in search of money.
“We visited 3-4 banks but either they had run out of cash or the queues were very long. Someone advised us to come here as there are several banks,” said labourer Mohammad Zubair, 22. “We need money to buy flour,” added his friend Mohammad Haleem, 25.
Hazari Lal, 48, who arrived from a village outside Jaipur, said his 32-year-old nephew is admitted in Sawai Man Singh Hospital and he needed to arrange “about Rs 10,000- Rs 15,000” for tests and an operation on a leg. “I haven’t even had tea or a single Kachori since morning but just have been standing in one queue after another; the government should have exempted hospitals,” he said passionately.
Zuhaib Khan, 30, was moving around town with his mother, Rubina, riding pillion on his bike. “We have been out since 2 pm and have visited 5 banks with no success. My father is out separately,” Khan said. “We thought we will not have to wait with my mother but at some places the separate queues were stopped after people got angry,” he said. “We need money for food,” said his mother.
Kanhaiya Lal, 36, who was accompanying another “staff member” said, “We are here to deposit money for our boss.”
As the day closed, Haricharan Dhakar, 24, came out of a bank with 40 notes of Rs 100 each in his pocket and a big smile on his face. “I am the first among all my friends,” he said, “I needed money for food. Ever our neighbourhood grocery-wala is not willing to lend credit now.”