35 Days after demonetisation: Banks and ATMs all over the country still crowded

New Delhi, Dec 14:  Banks and ATMs on Wednesday continued to be crowded with long queues visible outside even after 35 days of the ban on high denomination notes.

The queues appeared just as long and branches crowded, and constituted disaffected and despairing people, made cash-poor by the central government’s demonetisation move.

The Punjab National Bank (PNB) branch near the Nangloi Metro Station here had at least 150 people waiting at 8.00 a.m. — two hours before its opening time.

The disaffection seemed to have led people to believe that the ban is anti-poor, said an individual privy to the daily scene at the bank.

“So far, I have seen only the poor, labour class people in queues. Yet to see an advocate, a top police officer, a judge, or any local politician coming and waiting,” Asghar, a pan vendor in front of the bank told IANS.

“The rich people don’t have to wait in line, all the money is funneled to them from back channels, without them having to wait in the queues,” he said.

“The people start gathering outside the bank as early as 10 p.m. and sleep or chat through the night, so that they could get their cash as soon as possible in the morning, and so that they could avoid being absent from their workplaces,” he added.

Another young man, who manned a fruit stall outside the bank, told IANS of an ingenious way of mitigating the anguish of standing in queue for long hours — something like a relay race.

“My friend is already in the queue, and I’ll replace him once he’s tired. There’s another friend and once he comes, I’ll come back to my ‘rehri’ (cart). This way I won’t lose any business as either me or someone else is always at the stall,” he said.

The queues at the working ATMs in Connaught Place were same as they were the very next day after demonetisation.

“I finally withdrew money today after waiting in line for two hours. I survived cashless for days when I would return home at the very sight of winding queues, but I couldn’t do without cash now,” Apoorva Agnihotri, a logistics company executive, who withdrew money in Connaught Place, told IANS.