Nerves snap in long cash wait, shop looted

Villagers allegedly looted a ration shop in Madhya Pradesh after its owner refused to accept 500 and 1,000-rupee notes, as people's patience seemed to wear thin at many places in the country after four days of the cash crisis spawned by demonetisation.

By Our Bureau and PTI
  • Published 13.11.16
  •  
The PDS shop that was looted on Friday evening.
Picture by Rajesh Shrivastava

Nov. 12: Villagers allegedly looted a ration shop in Madhya Pradesh after its owner refused to accept 500 and 1,000-rupee notes, as people's patience seemed to wear thin at many places in the country after four days of the cash crisis spawned by demonetisation.

Munnilal Ahirwar says he watched helplessly last evening as over 100 villagers, many of them women, looted bags of wheat, rice and sugar from his store at Bardua in Chhattarpur district.

Ahirwar was allegedly roughed up each time he raised his voice or tried to physically stop the looters. "I recognised most of the faces, but will the police act?" he asked today.

Police from the nearest outpost, 6km away, arrived this morning and registered a case of looting against unknown people.

Long queues were seen at bank branches for the third consecutive day throughout Madhya Pradesh, while most ATMs remained non-functional for the fourth day, adding to the popular frustration.

For the past three days, most rural areas have received no cash from big cities like Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior, which are battling their own cash problems.

A video clip went viral on the social media, purportedly showing the police thrashing people who had lost their cool after waiting hours outside a bank in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh today.

The cops are seen beating the people with canes and belts outside the State Bank of India branch in Porsa.

The customers had tried to barge into the branch around 3pm, apparently angered by a policeman on duty allowing some people in through the backdoor, an eyewitness said.

"No one has approached us with a complaint yet, but I'm going to look into the incident and if the policemen are found guilty, they will be punished," superintendent of police Vineet Khanna said.

In Chhattarpur's Motwan mohalla, Mathura Prasad Ahirwar was able to perform the last rites of his wife Raj Bai only after neighbours pooled the necessary money.

His granddaughter Anuradha said the cost of the necessary materials such as milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, wood and sandalwood came to more than Rs 2,200 but the shopkeeper refused to accept the demonetised notes.

Eventually, the funeral was performed after sunset, which is not the preferred time according to local custom.

In Sagar district, retired BSNL official Vinod Kumar Pande, 69, suddenly collapsed and died after standing in queue for an hour at a Union Bank branch. He was carrying Rs 4,000 in large currency in his pocket that he had wanted to exchange.

Bank violence

Customers ran wild when a bank at Sujdu Chungi in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, delayed the exchange of the demonetised currency yesterday saying it lacked 100 and 50-rupee notes.

Some people damaged the cash counter and stoned the police when they arrived. The mob also damaged a government bus and two private cars on the street outside.

Later, the police carried out a baton-charge that left Khatiza Begum, 30, and Ayesha, a two-year-old girl, injured. Some people claimed the police had also fired in the air outside the bank.

During the vandalism, a few customers chanted " Mera desh bigad raha hai (My country is deteriorating)" - a take-off of the slogan "Mera desh badal raha hai (My country is changing)" that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted after completing two years in office in May.

Eyewitnesses said the problem began at 11am when an iron net attached to the teller's window, which some customers had grabbed as they jostled to get closer to the counter, came off under their collective weight.

Someone then smashed the glass pane at the counter, prompting nervous bank officials to call the police.

"The bus driver and the bank manager have lodgedcases against unidentified people," circle police officer Tejveer Singh said. "We are trying to identify and arrest them."

He said the bank received cash after an hour.

Vandalism

Some 200 angry customers waiting outside a State Bank of Travancore branch in Kerala's Kollam district allegedly broke a glass door today after the bank decided to down shutters because of the heavy rush.

The police are questioning several people.

Long queues formed outside bank branches across Kerala for the third day, amid complaints that the ATMs were running out of cash.

An elderly man had collapsed and died while queuing to deposit cash yesterday at Haripad in Alappuzha district, while another man fell to his death from a building housing a bank branch in Kannur.

Baton-charge

People clashed with bank officials at several places in Gujarat, prompting police baton-charges and detention.

Customers complained that several ATMs were closed and that banks were exchanging the demonetised notes with coins and very small-denomination currencies.

"Even hospitals are refusing to accept the larger notes," Ramesh Agarwal said.

"Bank officials said they had run out of the new 2,000-rupee notes and only had coins," said Bipin Patel. "They have given me coins for Rs 4,000, which is very difficult to carry."

Rajesh Shah, a senior citizen, said: "We stood in queues for two days.... We have Rs 3 lakh in our bank account but can't buy essentials. Modi should have made proper arrangements for cash."

The police caned customers who had clashed with bank officials when they refused to dispense money at a branch at Shihori in Banaskantha district. A similar incident was reported from Abdasa in Kutch.

Bribe cuffs

A senior assistant of the Kolhapur zilla parishad in Maharashtra was arrested on the charge of accepting a bribe of Rs 35,000 that contained 17 newly introduced Rs 2,000 currency notes, officials said.

Chandrakant Sawardekar, 45, had allegedly promised to help the complainant secure a promotion as a principal in a zilla parishad-run school.