PNB heist in Ghaziabad: Angry customers throng strongroom to check broken lockers
Burglars broke into the strongroom of the branch on Sunday night and escaped with valuables and documents reportedly belonging to customers from 30 lockers.noida Updated: Jun 14, 2017 10:51 IST
Shiv Kumar Agarwal, a senior citizen, arrived at the Punjab National Bank’s (PNB) Modi Nagar branch on Tuesday and scanned his broken locker several times by putting his hands deep inside. He broke down when he could not locate his savings certificates or jewellery he had deposited.
“I have lost all my hard-earned savings. My National Savings Certificates and Kisan Vikas Patra were taken. The jewellery of my daughter-in-laws was also stored here. I have been ruined,” he said.
Burglars broke into the strongroom of the branch on Sunday night and escaped with valuables and documents reportedly belonging to customers from 30 lockers.
Agarwal called his family from inside the strongroom, which was free to walk into on Tuesday as hundreds of customers came to check if their lockers were intact. The bank had put up a list of broken lockers at the main gate.
Customers read out the list and straightaway, barged into the strongroom after which they indulged in a verbal spat with bank officials. This went on for the whole day. Many also barged into the office of the branch manager.
Most times, the officials listened to customers with folded hands and did not reply. A total of 30 lockers of the 435 in the branch were broken into.
“All the valuables from my father’s locker are gone. We lost items worth nearly Rs50 lakh. How will we produce a bill to claim our valuables back? The jewellery was ancestral and decades-old. We will lodge an FIR against bank officials. It seems they are involved in the incident,” said Arun Bhatia, a customer.
The victims, also from Noida and Gurgaon, reported a loss of valuables ranging from Rs2 lakh to Rs60 lakh, each.
“The bank has not promised any compensation to the customers. They are not ready to respond to queries. After a heated exchange, they were ready to give me in writing that my locker is safe. I checked my locker and found it safe,” said GL Mittal, a customer from Sohna Road in Gurgaon.
“All my ancestral jewellery is gone. It was worth nearly Rs50 lakh. I seriously doubt that the bank premises was secure,” Devendra Kumar Garg, an affected customer, said.
Another customer, Geeta Jindal, who had come to check her locker withdrew all valuables from it despite finding it safe. “I will not store anything in this branch now. Who knows when the remaining lockers will be broken into,” she said.
“One of our three lockers was broken into. We are contemplating if storing valuables in lockers is safe,” said Abhilasha Singhal, a customer.
Rajinder Sharma, deputy circle head, PNB, said, “We have asked customers to prepare a list of valuables they have lost. We are giving them in writing about the broken lockers. The list of items lost will be sent to our head office. The senior officials will decide about the compensation, if any.”
The bank has 81 branches in Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida.
“Apart from the FIR and police investigation, the bank will also conduct an internal inquiry to investigate the security lapses and determine the laxity of branch officials. We are not denying responsibility, but the discretion to compensate customers is in the hands of senior officials. This may take time,” Sharma said.