There were pensioners getting over long spells of illness. There were people who had returned from long trips abroad. There were tears and there was anger.
That was the scene outside the Reserve Bank of India’s Delhi branch on Sansad Marg on Friday as crowds lined up to try to change their demonetised currency.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation in a sudden television address on November 8, he had said that old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes had to be deposited in banks or post office accounts by December 30. But if the holders had valid excuses, notes could also be deposited at five RBI branches by March 31.
However, in a series of confusing changes after that, the deadline was advanced. In the end, the authorities decided that the March 31 limit was applicable only Indians who had been travelling abroad when the December 30 deadline came up.
Not many people in the line on Sansad Marg on Friday met that criterion, but they were hoping they would get the chance to make their case to bank officials and be given the opportunity to change what for many were significant sums of money.
Here are some stories from the queue.
Saroj Manake from Delhi
Saroj Manake, 67, was trying to change Rs 3,500. The retired school clerk said she had been in Indore all this time, being nursed back to health by relatives, even as these notes were in her home in Delhi. “This is a lot of money for me,” she said.
Sandeep Yadav from Delhi
Najafgarh resident Sandeep Yadav was there to deposit Rs 9,000 that his neighbour had just found. “This money belongs to my 45-year old mentally-challenged neighbour whose mother Bilma Devi died five days ago,” he said. “I am going to neither benefit, nor lose anything whether this money gets deposited or not.”
Kavita Sharma from Delhi
Kavita Sharma suffers from throat cancer and carried consultation reports from Lok Nayak Hospital to strengthen her case. She was attempting to change a single Rs 1,000 note.
“My husband got fired from his job because he had to accompany me to hospital all the time,” she said. “Today, he is out seeking a new job and I am here alone.” Unless her note was changed, Sharma said, she would not be able to pay Rs 350 for a blood test today.
Shankar Lal from Chirawa, Rajasthan
Shankar Lal, 81, a retired school teacher from Chirawa in Rajasthan, broke into tears when the security personnel at entrance of the bank told him that his Rs 11,000 in old notes could not he deposited. He said he had stored this money on his altar at home, and forgotten about it. “I discovered it only now when cleaning it up for the Navratri festival,” he said.
He had brought along a bag full of medical reports in an attempt to convince bank officials of the merits of his case. “I have been here for three days and have no one to support me and my wife, who has limited mobility,” he said.
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