Two non-resident Indians living in USA bore the brunt of demonetisation when the customs department at the Indira Gandhi International Airport seized more than ₹1 lakh in demonetised ₹500 and ₹1,000 currencies.
Narender Joshi and Jasbir Saini has come to attend Pravasi Haryana Divas and were detained at the airport on the night of January 9. They were carrying ₹56,000 in scrapped ₹1,000 denomination and ₹53,500 in the scrapped ₹500 notes.
Alleging harassment, Joshi said they had to wait for three hours to complete the paper work at the airport and then did not get their rooms booked at Haryana Bhawan in New Delhi.
The duo belongs to Kurukshetra and shifted to USA 15 year ago. Joshi lives in Washington and heads a company, JMD Group, which owns departmental stores. Saini lives in Boston and has a chain of American restaurants.
“We did not know that old notes were not valid in India. There is no new currency with us. We had to request taxi drivers to accept payment in dollars,” Joshi told HT. He claimed to have paid extra dollars to taxi drivers as they were not ready to accept foreign currency.
“Customs authorities issued us a form and told that the currency would be released through a court. We have a return flight on January 16 and are not sure of pursuing the matter in the court. Officials at the helpdesk at the airport, to help those attending the event, also expressed helplessness,” Joshi said.
He said apart from the issue of currency, they were shocked at the treatment meted out to them at Haryana Bhawan. “When we entered the building, there was no one at the reception and attendants were sleeping. They told us that only one room was booked, but when we checked, it was already occupied by someone,” Joshi claimed.
They travelled to Gurgaon that night where rooms were booked at a private hotel for the next day. The hotel staff asked for ₹6,000 as the booking was from the next day, but they later waived the charges after the intervention of a local resident, Joshi claimed.
The government officials, involved in arrangements for the event, expressed ignorance about the issue. An official said more than 90 officials were deputed for liaison and no such complaint was received.