The man who became the face of demonetisation misery last year questioned the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s decision to make Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes illegal, the Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday. Nand Lal, a retired soldier who lives in Gurugram, was photographed crying after failing to collect his pension despite standing for three days in a queue outside a bank.
“I do not know who benefitted from the note ban,” Lal told the daily. He, however, added that a year after the currency notes were recalled, withdrawing cash is easier for him now. “Nobody cared for me before,” said Lal. “Now everyone takes care. Even bank officials.”
The officials at the State Bank of India’s New Colony branch at which Lal has his account take special care of him when he goes to collect his pension every month. “Earlier, they gave me only Rs 2,000 notes. Now I get lower denominations as well,” he told the newspaper.
“Everyone knows him here,” bank guard Ram Yadav told the newspaper. “We make sure he faces no problem.”
On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were no longer valid, and the government would introduce new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes. People were asked to swap old notes for new ones. But there was chaos at banks because the new notes were in short supply. Bank staff routinely worked 14-hour days until the situation eased three months later.
A look back at how hard note ban hit ordinary Indians