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Patience wears thin in Mewat as cash crunch drags on

Waiting for their turn:The scene outside the SBI branch in Mewat on Sunday.- Photo: Special Arrangement- Photo: Special Arrangement

Waiting for their turn:The scene outside the SBI branch in Mewat on Sunday.- Photo: Special Arrangement- Photo: Special Arrangement  

Six months pregnant, Farmina, 25, travelled 16 km in an auto-rickshaw on Sunday morning from her Jhunda village to get Rs.4,000 exchanged at the State Bank of India branch here. Not able to get the money exchanged for the past two days, she reached the bank around 5 a.m. in the morning, determined to get the cash.

“My husband is a daily-wager at a mining site and is not keeping well. We do not have money even for his medicines. I have been coming to the bank for the past two days with no luck. Whatever little cash I had, has been exhausted in travelling. If I do not get the money today, I will not have enough to even feed my family,” rued Farmina, a mother of four, standing in a queue outside the bank.

Around noon the crowd outside the bank’s boundary turned violent after the police tried to prevent them from jumping the wall to enter the premises and started throwing stones. Many of those inside the bank premises, including elderly and women, were injured.

“The stone hit me on the head,” claimed an elderly woman.

The SBI branch in Pinangwa is the only bank within a 20 km radius offering exchange.

A large number of people, including elderly and women, have been travelling long distances to come to this branch to get money for their daily needs.

Imtiaz, 19, has come from Tigaon, around 20 km away, on his motorcycle to withdraw cash.

“I had come with my mother on Saturday. But we had to leave after waiting for almost eight hours when people started getting restless and the situation appeared to be turning violent. I came again at 4 a.m. today and am waiting for my turn for the past eight hours. The Sarv Haryana Gramin Bank near our village is not exchanging money,” said Imtiaz, a student.

Raghubir Prajapati, 38, has been visiting the bank for the past three days to get cash for his mother’s treatment.

“I was scheduled to go Jaipur on Saturday for my mother’s surgery, but could not arrange the cash. I managed to deposit the cash today, but since only one transaction is allowed in a day in a savings account, I will have to again return tomorrow to withdraw the money,” said Prajapati, a labourer.

SBI, Pinangwa, Field Officer, Mohammad Sahid told The Hindu that the other three banks in the area -- Sarv Haryana Gramin Bank, Punjab & Sind Bank and Co-operative Bank -- were not exchanging money because of non-availability of cash and hence the rush at the bank was huge.

“We do not have enough cash and staff to handle the rush. None of the ATMs is working. We have a staff of only two people and are working overtime,” explained Sahid.

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