Cash van attacked in Assam amid currency crunch in banks, ATMs

Cash-strapped people were seen waiting in queues in towns and cities as most of the ATMs ran out of cash within hours after being stocked. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/MintCash-strapped people were seen waiting in queues in towns and cities as most of the ATMs ran out of cash within hours after being stocked. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

Guwahati/Pune: A cash-carrying van was on Wednesday attacked in Assam killing the driver and three more deaths due to apparent stress were reported as people failed to get any respite from chaotic scenes outside ATMs and banks eight days after demonetisation and struggled to secure valid currency.

Cash-strapped people were seen waiting in frustration in serpentine queues in towns and cities as most of the cash dispensing machines ran out of cash within hours after being stocked, while thousands of ATMs were still not functional.

Amid frayed tempers, more and more people across the country were complaining about problems with regard to their daily basic needs as most local stores stopped lending goods and other essential items on credit.

Banks and post offices also started using the indelible ink on customers exchanging the scrapped Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes in a bid to prevent syndicates and suspicious people coming to a branch repeatedly and misusing the note-exchange facility.

Pledging solidarity with the common man’s sufferings, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi made an unscheduled brief stop at an ATM in suburban Vakola in Mumbai and interacted with the people standing in a queue there, while he was returning from Bhiwandi in neighbouring Thane district after attending a court matter.

A vehicle carrying cash, withdrawn from a bank and kept in a police station last night, was going to Pengeri Tea estate in Tinsukia district in Assam when it was fired upon by unidentified miscreants at Digboi killing the driver on the spot and injuring a garden employee and a security personnel in the vehicle, police said. The dead driver has been identified as Abhijeet Paul and the injured admitted to Assam Medical College Hospital.

70-year-old Digambar Mariba Kasbe, who was standing in a queue outside a branch of SBI at Tuppain in Maharashtra’s Nanded district, collapsed and died, police said.

A 54-year-old bank employee died after he collapsed in a bank branch in Pune during office hours today, officials said. The deceased, identified as Tukaram Tanpure, was working as a messenger with the State Bank of India’s branch in Rajgurunagar, about 40 km from Pune, they said.

“Tanpure was working with us as messenger and today afternoon, when he was sitting in one of the cabins of the branch, he collapsed on the floor and became unconscious,” the bank’s branch manager Shridhar Iyer said.

Distressed over not being able to exchange old currency notes for the “tilak” ceremony of his daughter, a 40-year-old man died in Ballia in Uttar Pradesh after suffering a heart attack, his family members claimed today. The “tilak” ceremony of Suman, daughter of Suresh Sonar, a resident of Sahatwar Nagar panchayat, was scheduled for today. But he was short of cash due to “abrupt” demonetisation of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes, they said. A dejected Suresh returned home yesterday after standing in a queue for hours at the SBI branch. He suffered a massive heart attack last night and died, family members claimed.

“I waited two hours in a queue to withdraw Rs2,500 and it ran out of cash when my turn was about to come. ATMs don’t have cash, banks have endless queues too. How do we manage? Is it not frustrating to wait in line but not getting money even after that,” said Rishika Bajaj, a TCS employee in Delhi.

“I stood in the queue for over two hours, only to be told by a bank official that reserves of currency notes at the branch have dried up,” said Manik Sanyal, as he along with several others left the queue only to look for another bank in Kolkata where cash was still available.


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