Queues turn serpentine as Delhiites flock to banks, ATMs for cash
Sunday turned out to be yet another nightmarish day for Delhiites as thousands queued up in front of banks and ATMs to exchange demonetised currency notes and withdraw money.delhi Updated: Nov 14, 2016 01:15 IST
Sunday turned out to be yet another nightmarish day for Delhiites as thousands queued up in front of banks and ATMs to exchange demonetised currency notes and withdraw money.
Tempers flared up as paper currency – and eventually the public’s patience – ran dry in the end. Security was beefed up at bank branches due to rumours of stampedes and ransacking of a Seelampur mall that had cropped up the previous day.
The Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes banned by the Narendra Modi government made up for 86% of the currency in circulation, leaving millions without money and threatening to bring much of the country’s cash-driven economy to a halt. “I have been waiting here since 4 am. I don’t even have money to buy food,” a man standing outside a Lajpat Nagar ATM said.
As many as 3,400 paramilitary and Delhi Police personnel, besides 200 quick reaction teams, were deployed at ATMs and banks to manage the anxious crowds. The longest queue – extending to 500 metres and comprising over 1,000 people – was probably witnessed outside the Reserve Bank of India building on Parliament Street.
“As it’s a Sunday, we expected more people outside banks and ATMs. We made adequate security arrangements to prevent any untoward occurrence,” said a senior police officer.
The situation was no different outside post offices, with several venting their anger on the authorities. “They haven’t opened the gate in the last two hours,” said Huma Nasreen, one among the multitudes waiting outside the Gol Dak Khana.
Thousands of people camped outside ATMs from Saturday midnight, keeping their eyes peeled for cash delivery vans. Many could also be seen running from one machine to another, hoping to strike lucky in their hunt for paper currency.
Prabhat Kumar, a college student who had to stand in a bank queue for six hours, was not impressed by the Prime Minister’s emotional appeal to the public earlier that day. “He is taking bullet train rides in Japan, and here you have old people knocking on bank doors for cash,” he said, adding that Modi has made a terrible mistake.
A fight broke out outside a Bank of Baroda branch in Preet Vihar, and the situation inside turned chaotic despite the presence of security guards. While only a few were allowed to enter the place at a time, those waiting outside became impatient and started arguing with the guards.
Meanwhile, anxious citizens continued to form long queues outside the HDFC bank ATM in Panchsheel Park since the wee hours of Sunday. “People have been thronging this place even though it has no cash,” said Avinash Kumar, a resident.
(With inputs from agencies)