Chaos as crowds throng RBI to exchange old currency

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New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) Hundreds thronged the RBI here with old demonetised notes to grab new ones on the last day of official exchange on Friday but most people returned home disappointed.

Bank officials and security personnel turned away many because the facility was only for those who were abroad during the demonetisation as well as Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).

Even many eligible claimants failed to reach the bank counters as they could not produce the required documents.

A senior citizen, A.S. Sahani, fumed that he was not aware of the documents the Reserve Bank of India was demanding.

“I came back from the Middle East a few days ago. I have come to exchange some old notes. But I have been told by the security personnel that I can’t go inside as I do not have a certificate from the Customs which I was supposed to get when I landed. However, I was not told about it when I landed,” Sahani said.

Ngahhoikim, a working professional from Manipur, was in Europe for about a year. When she came back to India, she too was not told about the Customs certificate.

“I showed them my passport, visa, tickets. However, the bank officials want the Customs’ certificate. How can I get it now? Should not passengers be informed about it on their arrival?”

As there were hardly any officials to communicate with the crowd, the situation outside the RBI turned chaotic. People openly expressed their anger and desperation with one another and with media persons.

Despite persuasions and warnings by security personnel, people were not ready to vacate the place — in the faint hope that they may secure entry into the bank.

Kapil Gupta and Navin Garg angrily asked RBI officials if they should burn the old notes since the bank was not accepting them.

“After my grandmother died, we found a few old notes in her cupboard. The bank is not ready to accept them. What am I supposed to do?” one of them asked.

Following the commotion, RBI officials announced that the facility to exchange the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 was available only for those who were outside India during the note ban as well as NRIs.

But many kept pleading with the security and bank officials to get their old notes exchanged.

A senior citizen, Nasreena, had come from Faridabad in Haryana to exchange old notes totalling Rs 14,000.

“I could not exchange the notes earlier as my husband and I were not keeping well for long. If the bank does not allow me to exchange, I will lose all my savings,” Nasreena complained.

At one point, a senior RBI bank official pleaded with the people to go home.

“The bank cannot exchange their notes any more,” the official said.

At 3 p.m., the entry of NRIs was halted as their deadline to exchange old notes expires only on June 30. From then, only those who were outside India during the note ban and had valid documents were let in.

–IANS

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