On Tuesday afternoon, 65-year-old Munni Lal, a daily wage worker, sat next to his wife’s body under a makeshift plastic tent at a JJ cluster in Noida, lighting incense sticks and waiting for his sons. Around 2 pm on Monday, his wife, 61-year-old Phoolmati Devi, had died at a hospital in Noida, a few months after being diagnosed with stomach cancer.
“At 9 am, I took her to Dharamshila Hospital, which referred us to another private hospital. We took an auto and went there. She passed away at 2 pm. We had to pay Rs 600-700 in cash for things such as syringes, food and medicines,” said Lal.
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When Lal returned to his one-room home in Sector 9 on Monday evening, he did not have cash to pay for his wife’s last rites. So he went to the Bank of India branch in Sector 9, where his 30-year-old son has an account.
“My two sons took a train from UP’s Gonda district but are yet to reach. One of my sons had Rs 16,000 in the account. I was at the bank for many hours, but the manager told me the branch does not have any money. I told them about my situation but no one listened,” Lal said.
When contacted, officials at the branch maintained they were out of cash. “We did not get cash on Monday. We are trying to arrange money,” said a bank official on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, Lal’s neighbours approached the bank again. “At 10 am, we were told the money will come in a while. We went again and they told us they do not have cash,” said Abdul, a neighbour.
Eventually, at 3 pm on Tuesday, Lal said he received Rs 2,500 from a police officer, while a politician gave him Rs 5,000. “My wife would not want us to use borrowed money for her cremation. The district administration eventually gave money to the bank, after which we withdrew Rs 15,000 from my son’s account. We will perform her last rites tomorrow morning,” Lal said.
“The branch did not have cash yesterday, so a chowki in-charge gave Rs 2,500. Today, the branch managed to arrange money and the family was given Rs 15,000,” said Dinesh Yadav, SP City, Gautam Budh Nagar.
Lal came to Noida from Gonda 22 years ago and started working as a vegetable vendor. He had to stop working after his wife became sick.
His son Jamuna Prasad said his mother had come to Noida in May for cancer treatment.