RASHMI, a first-year BA student, has spent her last two days in the queue outside Bank of Baroda’s Bachhrawan branch in Rae Bareli district. Her elder sister Rajni is getting married on November 23 and the withdrawal of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes has disturbed the family’s plans.
She deposited Rs 49,000 into her account on Thursday, but could withdraw only Rs 2,000, the maximum any bank branch is allowing. Today, she stands again in the queue to withdraw whatever the bank allows. “The newspapers say Rs 4,000 can be withdrawn, but the branch is giving only Rs 2,000. My family had withdrawn more than Rs 1 lakh for marriage preparations. Yesterday, I deposited only Rs 49,000 because I don’t have a PAN card. My parents have also been waiting outside their bank,” said Rashmi, from neighbouring Todarpur village.
“We are facing a lot of trouble. The ATMs are also closed. But we can suffer this inconvenience. At least the black money and fake currency will come out. I support the government’s move, but there should have been some arrangements for people like us who have marriages or other urgencies,” she said.
All ATMs in Bachhrawan were closed on Friday. The branches of more than a dozen banks in the town operated till 7-8 pm, but most of them ran out of cash by 5 pm.
Rahul Kumar, a third year B.Tech student, has been in the male queue outside the branch for more than three hours, having come there from Nigoha town of Lucknow district, about 15 km away. “I thought it would be easier to get cash here but there’s such a big queue. I need Rs 5,000 to submit the instalment of my college fees.
The last date is November 15. I still think it’s a good move by the Prime Minister,” he said.
At least two policemen have been deployed at every bank branch to manage queues. Bank security guards have kept the door locked, allowing only five or ten persons at a time. Hariom, 59, who runs a paan shop in the town, said he deposited two old Rs 500 notes on Wednesday and is now waiting for his turn to withdraw Rs 4,000 from his account. “There’s no money at home even to buy vegetables. But I can tolerate this problem which will last only a day or two. Par Hindustan ka aadmi sudhar jayega. Jo mantri, vakil, doctor gadda laga ke rakhe hain beshumar (But Indians will mend their ways — the ministers, lawyers and doctors who have piled up unlimited cash),” he said.
A few persons tried to persuade the policemen managing the queue so that they could be allowed to go first. Inside the Central Bank of India branch, those waiting for money were told that cash was not available. One person who knew a peon got his Rs 500 exchanged without filling out any form.
A few steps away, the queue of more than 25 persons outside HDFC Bank was told at around 5 pm that there was no cash left.
Satyam Yadav, a polytechnic student, managed to get Rs 4,000 exchanged before the bank ran out of cash. “My mother had abdomen pain. I got her examined by a doctor on Thursday but had no Rs 100 notes to buy medicines. Now that I have money I will go and buy medicine,” said Yadav, showing the doctor’s prescription. He, however, added that the move will benefit in the long run.
Dr RK Awasthi, who runs Saryu Devi Smarak Hospital in the town, said patients faced problems on Wednesday but the situation is returning to normal. “We accepted whatever currency notes the patients had. We also gave medicines with the same notes. It’s not a problem for us because we deposited the money in the bank,” he said.
A staffer of Punjab National Bank, Amit Kumar, said there are more than one dozen banks’ branches in the town. They cater to about 13,000 people living in Bachhrawan town and a larger number of people in the surrounding villages in about 20 km area. “Maximum people are coming for deposits and withdrawals. We ran out of cash today but soon we will get the cash from Rae Bareli. We will also start our ATM then,” said Kumar.
Abhishek Gupta, who runs a grocery shop, said his business has been only mildly affected. “Our regular customers took stuff on credit. We are also getting supply on credit. But the black money will come out now,” he said.