IMPHAL, Nov 28: Groups of anguished customers today vandalised SBI branches of Canchipur (Manipur University) and Leimakhong. According to information culled from the spot, SBI MU branch allowed its customers to withdraw only Rs 2000 from its cash counters as was done in the last couple of weeks since the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. The customers demanded that the maximum amount allowed for withdrawal be raised to some extent. This resulted in heated arguments between staff of the bank and the account holders gathered there. Soon after, some of the account holders pelted stones at the bank damaging a number of window panes.
ASI Mutum Shyama (50), security in-charge of the bank branch sustained injury on the head as the account holders attacked the bank by pelting stones. One of the account holders said that SBI MU Branch issued token to 300 account holders each day but they were not allowed to withdraw more than Rs 2000. As the account holders raised a strong protest, the branch manager offered to allow withdrawal of Rs 4000 today. But many of the account holders were not ready to go back with just Rs 4000 after standing in long queues for hours. Chief Manager of the branch, Pranab Sen said that they were preparing to raise withdrawal limit to Rs 4000 from today. But some account holders raised an uproar contending that Rs 4000 was too little.
Even though some account holders were ready to accept Rs 4000 offered by the bank, they were prevented from accepting the same by other customers/account holders. He maintained that the SBI MU branch allows account holders to withdraw larger amounts if they are for medical or other emergency purposes. Apart from registration of a case, a police team led by an SDPO of Singjamei police station came and inspected the situation. A similar uproar was also seen at SBI Leimakhong branch office.
A large of number of people were standing in queues in front of the bank before dawn to withdraw cash. As the bank was opened at the usual office hour, people standing for hours were told that not more than Rs 2000 could be withdrawn. Bank staff did not allow withdrawal of more than Rs 2000 either by using withdrawal slips or cheques. Withdrawal of money from the bank’s ATM booths using debit cards was also limited to Rs 2000. This infuriated people gathered there and they attacked the bank office by pelting stones. They also ransacked the bank. The anguished people were further enraged when security forces deployed there turned their weapons on them. The mob then pulled down the bank’s signboard, broke the steel gate and vandalised external units of air conditioners. Police teams from Sekmai station as well as Saparmeina station arrived at the bank premises. Even though they somehow managed to control the situation, people’s anger was still simmering. One Doinu Vaiphei said that Rs 2000 could not meet her family’s basic requirements of a day.
She said that they could not even pay school fees for their children even though annual examinations have already started. Later, the branch manager announced that people may withdraw up to Rs 10,000 tomorrow.
Source: The Sangai Express