Amanath Cooperative Bank depositors protest demanding their money back

Desperate for their hard-earned money deposited in crisis-ridden Amanath Cooperative Bank Ltd., a large number of depositors gathered outside the bank’s main office in Shivajinagar in the city on Wednesday and staged a demonstration.

Most of the depositors, who belong to middle-class and lower middle-class families, had saved their lifetime earnings in the bank. In view of the uncertainty over refunding of their deposits, many of them told The Hindu they were willing to forego their interest and just want their principal amount back.

In April this year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stipulated that account holders cannot withdraw more than Rs. 1,000 within six months following a build up of non-performing assets (NPA) totalling Rs. 66 crore.

Nearly 100 depositors had turned up outside the bank on Wednesday, a day after the bank management announced its proposal to “merge” with Canara Bank.

Canara Bank’s denial

But, Canara Bank denied that the institution was in the process of taking over the beleaguered cooperative bank. A top official of the bank told The Hindu that the claim by the cooperative bank’s board that it plans to “merge” with the public sector bank “is entirely incorrect.”

The senior bank official who did not wish to be identified said the cooperative bank, which has an account holder base of over two lakh, “may be in talks with other banks for a bailout.”

Explaining that any merger “is a process and not an event,” the official said, “So far, such a process has not been initiated within the bank.”

He also said the process would take time because Amanath bank was now under the stewardship of the Reserve Bank of India. “It will take its own course,” he said.

Sayed Sanaulla (63), a retired engineer, said his account with the bank was 15 years old.

“I have about Rs. 5 lakh saved up in the bank for my son’s marriage which we plan to conduct next year. A more pressing need is to pay the contractor for the house that I am constructing,” he said.

His instalment to the contractor has been pending from April.

“I requested Reserve Bank of India authorities to at least give me Rs. 2 lakh from my account, but I am yet to hear from them,” he said. He said many had saved their money in the bank for the Haj pilgrimage, paying their children’s fees and marriages.

Another depositor, Vinod Kumar (64) said he needs a heart surgery soon. “But all my money is in the bank. I need at least Rs. 5 lakh for my operation. Doctors had suggested that I have the surgery last year itself, but I waited as I had to save enough. Now I have the money but no access to it,” he said.

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