Customers who had stood in a queue for hours to withdraw money ransacked the Liluah branch of a bank and an ATM on Wednesday after they were told that the cash had not arrived and they would have to return empty-handed.
Around 1,000 people were in the queue in front of the Jagadishpur branch of the State Bank of India around 2pm when officials said cash from the Howrah Maidan branch of the bank had not arrived.
For the past few days, the branch has been disbursing money from around noon.
"The customers exploded on hearing that they would not get money today," said Gandhi Nayek, a resident of Jagadishpur. Nayek's wife Debashree, 25, and 70-year-old father Jugal were in the queue, too.
"We had been standing in the queue since 6am. The bank officials suddenly declared at 2pm that we could not withdraw money today. Why do I have to face such harassment for withdrawing my money?" Nayek asked.
Around 50 customers ransacked an ATM kiosk in the bank compound and then went to the first floor of the building, where the bank is located, and smashed the glass door. No bank employee was injured.
In the ATM kiosk, the mob broke the monitor of the cash dispensing machine, smashed the automated passbook printer and a CCTV camera installed in the room, an officer of Liluah police station said.
"A couple of cops and a few civic cops were manning the gate. The mob pushed them aside and rushed to the first floor," the officer said.
Most of the account holders at the Jagadishpur branch of the SBI are small garment traders. Cash is vital for them to run their business.
"I have 10 tailors who make garments for me. I have to pay them every week. Besides, I have to buy cloth and thread for stitching garments every day. If the bank does not pay me cash, how can I pay the tailors and run my business?" wondered Samsuddin Laskar.
Jayanta Basu, the manager of the Jagadishpur branch, said they failed to give money to the account holders as cash had not arrived from the main branch.
"The Uluberia branch sent us some money after the trouble. We started giving money from 4pm," Basu said. "The amount we got was not enough for all the account holders who had queued up."
Police seized Rs 95,000 in the banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from the banks of the Kestopur canal in Gouranganagar, on the outskirts of New Town, on Wednesday. Residents of the area spotted the notes scattered along the canal and alerted the police.