Elderly dies in queue as India battles cash chaos (Roundup)
New Delhi/Hyderabad, Nov 15 (IANS) A 70-year-old man died on Tuesday while standing in a queue outside a bank in Andhra Pradesh as common people across India continued to struggle for cash, the way they have been doing since the government spiked high value currency notes a week ago.
Lakshminarayana, 75, collapsed while waiting in a long queue for over two hours at an Andhra Bank branch in Marredpally in Secunderabad, the twin city of Hyderabad, witnesses said.
He was rushed to a hospital where doctors declared him dead due to cardiac arrest. A resident of Railway Colony in Secunderabad, he had gone to deposit Rs.1.7 lakh in scrapped currency notes of Rs 500 and 1,000.
The witnesses said there was a huge rush at the bank and Lakshminarayana had to wait very long in the absence of a separate queue for senior citizens — despite official directives to banks to ensure one.
Elsewhere in India, as millions mobbed banks and ATMs, the mass struggle continued endlessly in the wake of the November 8 announcement of demonetisation of large currency notes.
Men and women stood in serpentine queues for hours to exchange or deposit their spiked notes with new ones or withdraw cash to meet their daily expenses.
Some of them were successful and many others lost patience when they couldn’t get any money. There was no respite from the chaos at banks. The security personnel had a tough time controlling crowds.
The government blamed the long queues outside banks on people trying to convert their black money into white by sending agents to exchange money again and again.
To prevent this, the government said banks would now use indelible ink — as is done during elections to prevent bogus voting — so that people were stopped from making multiple cash exchanges.
Ankush Tiwari, a security guard with a private company, said he reached an ATM in Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi at 6 in the morning. A dozen people were already there.
“There was no cash but we were told it will be refilled. We waited till noon when cash was reloaded. I got to withdraw Rs 2,500 (the maximum limit) around 1 p.m.,” Tiwari told IANS.
The story of chaos and suffering played out almost similarly in major cities, including Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata, and innumerable smaller towns and rural parts of India.
In Hyderabad, many complained that bank officials were attending only to a few influential and major customers known to them.
“I waited for over two hours but bank officials said they can’t give me new notes as I don’t have an account,” said G. Narsaiah, a construction worker who had come to exchange Rs 2,000 in old notes.
Long queues were seen outside all banks and ATMs in much of the country’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.
Sohail, a mechanic with an aluminium fitting shop in Lucknow, said he was having huge difficulties due to the demonetisation. “I am facing difficulty to even arrange meals for my family. Where do I go?”
Belonging to a poor family, Sohail said he had not sent any money to his ageing parents in Firozabad, also in Uttar Pradesh, for days.
In Kerala, the situation got more chaotic as district cooperative banks have been denied permission to exchange the spiked currencies. In protest, the entire cooperative sector will remain closed on Wednesday.