Queues in­crease, anger rises, but Mum­bai­ites stay help­ful

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dents let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com HT Cor­re­spon­dents ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Prime min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi warned of more ac­tion against peo­ple hold­ing il­licit cash even as anger rose across the coun­try on Satur­day with ATMs run­ning dry and banks strug­gling to dis­pense cash three days af­ter the gov­ern­ment de­mon­e­tised high-value ban­knotes.

Union fi­nance min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley said it will take two-three weeks to up­grade the au­to­mated tell­ers ma­chines (ATMs) to en­able them to dis­pense the new Rs2,000 and Rs500 ban­knotes.

“I would like to an­nounce once again that af­ter the end of this scheme, there is no guar­an­tee that some­thing new will not be in­tro­duced to pun­ish you (the cor­rupt),” Modi told mem­bers of the In­dian com­mu­nity in Kobe, Ja­pan. “I salute my coun­try­men. Peo­ple stood in line for four hours, six hours but ac­cepted the de­ci­sion in na­tional in­ter­est... But I never thought I will re­ceive bless­ings for this.”

But back home, the ini­tial pub­lic sup­port for the clam­p­down on “black money” ap­peared to be wan­ing as mil­lions of peo­ple stood in ser­pen­tine queues in banks and ATMs for hours and yet failed to ei­ther ex­change their old notes or with­draw any cash.

There were re­ports of an­gry peo­ple break­ing the glass façade of a bank in Delhi while tele­vi­sion footage showed po­lice can­ing and shov­ing peo­ple at an­other branch. Re­ports of peo­ple fall­ing un­con­scious PM Naren­dra Modi with his Ja­panese coun­ter­part Shinzo Abe board­ing the bul­let train to Kobe from Tokyo on Satur­day.

and even dy­ing from ex­haus­tion fu­elled pub­lic anger de­spite the gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ments about hav­ing “enough cash” to meet the de­mand.

The death of at least five peo­ple, in­clud­ing a child, across the coun­try are said to be linked to gov­ern­ment’s shock de­ci­sion. Po­lice booked a doc­tor in Mum­bai af­ter he al­legedly re­fused treat­ment to a baby as the fa­ther could not pay im­me­di­ately. The baby later died.

Fis­ticuffs also broke out among cus­tomers in sev­eral parts of the coun­try with ire di­rected at bank of­fi­cials, made to work this week­end to meet the huge de­mand for lower de­nom­i­na­tion cur­rency.

The chaos and con­fu­sion over ban­knotes con­tin­ued on Satur­day, three days af­ter the Cen­tre de­mon­e­tised the Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes. Ser­pen­tine queues were wit­nessed out­side ATMs and banks again, and many Mum­bai­ites were forced to re­turn with­out be­ing able to get cash or ex­change their old notes.

Kapila En­gi­neer, a house­wife, who queued up at a Borivli ATM twice on Satur­day, said it was frus­trat­ing to come ev­ery day and stand in a line to with­draw money. “Only two ATM ma­chines are func­tion­ing of ev­ery 10 kiosks in Borivli. We are los­ing pa­tience now,” she said.

San­jeeva Rao, a gen­eral store owner, said two of his work­ers did not come to work as they were busy stand­ing in queues out­side banks. “I have no one to run my shop or stand in line and ex­change cur­rency for me,” he said.

At some places, how­ever, there was some re­spite for Mum­bai­ites. At High Street Phoenix in Lower Parel, valet park­ing was made free for car own­ers on Satur­day evening. “Sev­eral cus­tomers com­plained of not hav­ing change and we didn’t want to in­con­ve­nience them, so we de­cided to waive off the valet charges,” said a cus­tomer care ex­ec­u­tive at the mall.

The turf war be­tween the ex­ec­u­tive and the ju­di­ciary over the ap­point­ments of judges has had a pos­i­tive fall­out this year.

With the gov­ern­ment paving the way for 25 more judges by early next week, 2016 will see the high­est num­ber of ap­point­ments be­ing made in the higher ju­di­ciary in one year.

Highly placed sources in the min­istry of law and jus­tice told HT that the gov­ern­ment has cleared the names of over two dozen judges, to be no­ti­fied by mid-Novem­ber.

PTI

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