A burqa-clad woman who fraudulently withdrew money from automated teller machines (ATM) in Kashmir has put regional and national banks in a religious dilemma.
Most banks in the valley have asked guards at ATM machines to be extra vigilant about women wearing burqas after the woman succeeded in duping J&K Bank customers by withdrawing money from an ATM machine two weeks ago without being recognised.
According to police, she used to stand outside ATM booths and offer to help female customers who found it difficult to operate an ATM. In the process, she would hand over a fake card and keep the customer’s original card.
She was arrested on June 17 after a video showing the burqa-clad woman apparently withdrawing money and looking into the camera went viral. Nothing was visible in the video except her eyes.
“Utilising technical and other resources, we succeeded in zeroing in on the fraudster lady. She has been taken into custody and is being questioned for similar offences in other parts of city,” said police official Mohammad Issaq. “The lady used to exchange the ATM while offering help at the ATM kiosks in Srinagar. Later, the lady used to withdraw money from the ATM.”
In one case, she succeeded in fraudulently withdrawing Rs 40,000.
But the banks’ move to remain extra vigilant towards veiled women has sparked anger among religious groups.
“We strongly react to the reports of veiled women not being allowed to enter ATM booths to withdraw money,” said Dukhtaran-e-Millat president Syedah Aasiyeh Andrabi. “There can be no objection if a burqa-clad women is asked to prove her identity by showing a valid identity card before entering the ATM booth but asking her to remove the veil and get her face captured by the camera is unacceptable. Purdah-observing women are not going to obey the illogical and un-Islamic order of so-called authorities.”
J&K Bank's corporate communication officer Sajad Bazaz denied the allegations."We have issued no such orders. We cannot infringe on the privacy of the customers. There is no such direction," said Bazaz.