PMC Bank depositors protest, HDIL Directors’ custody extended

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Mumbai, Oct 16 (IANS) Against the backdrop of the deaths of two depositors in the past two days, over 100 agitated depositors of the sanction-hit Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank Ltd staged a protest outside the Esplanade Court here on Wednesday demanding justice.

A court here sent to judicial custody, till October 23, two directors of HDIL – Rakesh Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan, and PMC Bank’s ex-Chairman S. Waryam Singh – who were arrested in connection with the Rs 4,355 crore scam in the bank.

The protesters carried placards and banners, shouted slogans against the Reserve Bank of India, waved posters reading: “Two Lives Taken, RBI – How many more lives will be gone”, one of the participants in the demonstrations told IANS.

The protest came after the death of two depositors – 51-year-old Sanjay Gulati on Monday and 61-year-old Fattomal Punjabi – whose entire life savings remain inaccessible after the RBI’s sanctions imposed on September 23 on the PMC Bank.

Some senior depositors squatted on the roads outside the court premises, others protested in groups and a few went around with posters saying: “Vote For NOTA”, in reference to the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections.

A few who addressed the gathering demanded that in order to mitigate the sufferings of the depositors, the RBI should immediately lift curbs on the bank.

The RBI has initially allowed depositors to withdraw a paltry Rs 1,000, followed by Rs 25,000 and now raised to Rs 40,000, but the customers have been demanding full access to all their accounts.

Later, a delegation of the protesters met the police who informed them of the actions being taken and the steps already taken, and assured that none of the perpetrators of the scam in the PMC Bank would be spared.

A depositor said another delegation is likely to call on Maharashtra Governor B.S. Koshyari later this evening and apprise him of the plight of the bank’s customers ahead of the festival season.

In a related development, banking expert Vishwan Utagi held a meeting in Navi Mumbai of hundreds of institutions whose funds have been locked up in the PMC Bank and discussed several remedial options to get them released.

Expressing solidarity with the two deceased depositors – Gulati and Punjabi, groups have been organising candle-light protests and condolence meetings.

Several political parties including the Congress and ruling ally Shiv Sena, besides the ruling BJP, have taken up cudgels on behalf of the bank depositors and urged that the PMC Bank should be merged with a nationalised bank.

–IANS

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