There was a panic run on ATMs across the Indian capital as Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes won’t be legal tender from midnight Tuesday.
Tens of thousands of people rushed to the nearest ATMs in a desperate attempt to get hold of Rs 100 denomination notes and to deposit the 500 and 1,000 notes with them, IANS journalists reported.
Modi’s nationally televised announcement, aimed at battling black money, spread rapidly, with friends telephoning and messaging one another.
At shopping malls in Saket, long queues quickly formed at all the ATM counters, with most people interested in depositing the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes they had.
There was a lot of shouting as those in the rear of the queue egged on those in the front to quickly finish their transaction so as to beat the midnight deadline of Tuesday.
“What rubbish is this? All of us have been put into so much difficulty,” a middle aged man said loudly to no one in particular.
A young man, seemingly in his 20s, turned abusive.
Three young women who had been shopping suddenly dropped everything and rushed to an ATM. An elderly man asked an IANS reporter: “Please tell me the location of the nearest ATM.”
Rajiv Mitra, a professional in Noida, made a mistake by withdrawing money on Tuesday night -- and ended up getting more Rs 1,000 notes, as the ATMs were still dispensing the larger denomination notes.
Not everyone was critical though. A few felt that the sweeping government step may perhaps eliminate black money and entrenched corruption.
One man said he had come across a counterfeit Rs 500 note a few days back and underwent a lot of trouble because of that.
“At least now there won’t be counterfeit currency any more,” he said, talking to a small group of people.
Residents in residential colonies said shopkeepers, including chemists, were already refusing to accept the banned notes.
Even street vendors refused to accept 500 and 1,000 notes.
“I have bank employees as my customers and they warned me not to take these notes any more,” said a man selling chaat near a Metro station in Noida.
“Yes, we are having problems now but the real problem will be faced by those who have hoarded lots and lots of cash with them,” interjected one man who too said he was a vendor.
The government has said that ATMs will not function on Wednesday, and in some areas on Thursday too. Banks have been ordered closed on Wednesday.