“Kya Rs 4,000 mein shaadi ho jayegi (Can a wedding be organised in Rs 4,000)?” asks an exasperated Jal Singh, holding up four plastic pouches — each filled with hundred 10-rupee coins.
That’s what Singh, a resident of Bisrakh village in Uttar Pradesh, got from the SBI branch in exchange for Rs 4,000 in old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
His daughter is getting married on December 1, and he is running from pillar to post to get cash. “I withdrew Rs 3 lakh on November 6 — two days before the demonetisation announcement. I had to put it all back in the bank and now I’m running here and there to get my own money. Plus no one wants to accept Rs 10 coins over fears they are fake,” he said.
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At Bisada, 30 km from Delhi, many angry people have lined up outside the lone Syndicate Bank branch.
At least seven have a wedding in their family in the next three weeks. They have been lining up outside the bank with wedding cards as proof, keeping in mind the government’s announcement that a withdrawal of Rs 2.5 lakh per wedding be allowed.
“All we got is Rs 2,000 over the past week. We told the manager about the new rule and told him what our situation was, but he does not care. We had no option but to fight with him and he called the police,” said Mahesh Kumar, 50, who has two daughters — and both are getting married on November 25.
Kumar has Rs 17 lakh in his account, which he had saved for the weddings. “The engagement is on Saturday and the wedding next week. How will we manage?” he said.
Khatun, a widow, took a loan of Rs 10,000 on Wednesday for her daughter’s wedding. All of it was in Rs 1,000 notes. She put the amount into her bank, hoping to get Rs 100 and Rs 2,000 notes. She hasn’t got anything so far.
“I took the loan in old notes because that was the only option available. What do I do now?” she said. Her daughter’s wedding is 10 days away.
The bank manager at Bisada, meanwhile, said he is helpless. The bank caters to 11 villages near Bisada, and there are close to 30,000 accounts at the branch.
“I want to give people their money. What will I gain by hoarding it? But we are not getting enough cash. The branch gets Rs 5-6 lakh each day. If I start giving Rs 10,000 to everyone, I will be out by the time the 60th person reaches me. Close to 1,000 people have been coming here every day,” said Om Prakash Singh, the manager.
Singh also said he does not have the instructions to give Rs 2.5 lakh to families where weddings are scheduled.
“We have got no such instructions but I am ready to help the people. Where is the money, though?” he said.
But it’s not just those with weddings in the family who are suffering.
Hari Om, 20, said he has no money to sow wheat in his 3-acre field.
“I need at least Rs 20,000 to get the work done but there is no cash. No one in the area will take payment by a debit or credit card, and I don’t know what PayTm is. My debit card is damaged. The shopkeeper is not selling anything on credit as he has to pay his supplier,” he said.
Dheerendra, 32, who runs a daily-needs store in Bisada, said. “I would earn Rs 12,000 every day, now I make Rs 2,500. I don’t have customers — or change.”