PMC Bank customers demand Rs 5000 crore bailout package from PM Narendra Modi
Customers of the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank staged a dharna outside the Killa court in Mumbai on Wednesday and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announce at his election rally a Rs 5,000 crore package for the scam-hit bank’s depositors.
The depositors also vowed to vote for ‘NOTA’ (none of the above in the ballot paper) in the upcoming Maharashtra assembly elections if their demands are not met.
Later in the evening, the protesting depositors of bank held a meeting with the Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve and claimed that the top cop assured them of full support in the ongoing case against the bank.
“The commissioner has assured us that Rs 4,500 crore worth of property seized from the directors is primarily for the bank’s purpose and will be used in support of the customers,” said Harban Singh, 38, a Mumbai-based hotelier and a PMC Bank depositor. “The commissioner has also assured of an appointment of a special public prosecutor to protect our interests,” he said.
“We are ready to give an assurance to the RBI that we will keep our deposits locked in the bank for a period of three years if it is required to kickstart the bank’s operations,” Singh said. “We are ready to help the RBI in rebuilding the bank.”
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to an urgent hearing on a plea seeking directions for interim protective measures for insuring PMC depositors.
Ahead of the meeting with the top cop, protesters accused the police of trying to scuttle their dharna.
“The police were even trying to divert us from our protest saying that the commissioner is holding a meeting in this regard inside the court and we could end our protest and return home. We cannot be diverted like this and we will stay till a solution is announced today itself,” Anita Ruia, 40, a social worker at an NGO.
Earlier in the day, protesters squatted on the pavement outside the court. They held placards demanding the resignation of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das and questioning the authenticity of the auditors who oversaw the functioning of the bank.
“The RBI was unsuccessful in maintaining a proper vigilance. Why are we being punished? We have paid taxes on our hard earned money lying in the bank and are being made to beg for our own money” said Ruia.
The protestors also said the code of conduct for the elections in poll-bound Maharashtra should not come in the way of addressing their concerns and accused the bank of “financial terrorism”.
“Tomorrow if there is an act of war, the government will certainly not think about election code of conduct. This is clearly a situation of financial terrorism. We are being held to ransom. If this is actually code of conduct, we expect all political parties, ruling or opposition to issue a joint statement that they will raise no objection. PM Modi should announce a bailout package in his rally today so that we get our money do not have to wait till the legal proceedings take their time. We need our money now and you can take as much time as you want to recover money from the defaulters,” said Bernard Pererra, 40, a training professional.
The Prime Minister in his election rally in Akola made no mention of the PMC Bank scam.
On Tuesday, Sanjay Gulati, 51, an account holder with the Oshiwara branch of the bank lost his life due to financial stress after his funds were locked up in the bank.
“There have been three deaths in total: two natural and one suicide. Nivedita Bijlani, a doctor who had approximately a crore locked up in the bank took her own life last evening. I heard stories of fellow depositors who are terminally ill and are not being able to get any sort of treatment because of no funds. We do not want any more mishaps. Even today a protestor collapsed outside the court. We are in no mood to wait anymore,” said Pererra.
On September, the RBI ordered the PMC Bank not to do any business for six months and capped depositor withdrawals at Rs 1,000, throwing the lives of thousands of traders, self-employed and daily wage earners into disarray. The regulator also appointed an administrator for the bank.
The RBI subsequently raised the limit of withdrawal to Rs 40000.