New Delhi/Mumbai: Banks across the country opened up to long, serpentine queues on Thursday as millions of people rushed to their local branches to get rid of banned high denomination currency for new notes or deposit them in their accounts even as police maintained tight security.
Anxious customers thronged the branches much before the opening time--some at the crack of dawn--and had to wait for several hours to complete their transactions with senior citizens also not being spared of hardships.
Amid frayed tempers, there were complaints galore that the stocks of new hard-to-fake Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes were exhausted within hours though the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were being accepted by banks. Queues were seen at the banks several hours after they opened for public dealings.
In some interior areas, some banks and post offices reported that they were yet to receive new notes.
Security was beefed up in banks and ATMs even as people fumed over the idea of waiting in long queues on a working day.
In the national capital, as many as 3,400 personnel of paramilitary and Delhi Police along with quick reaction teams were deployed for maintaining security in banks in view of huge rush of people.
"Despite having money with us, we are struggling for basic necessities as grocery stores, DTC buses and other local shops are not accepting these notes. Now I have to skip going to office today to exchange notes as there is such a long queue that my turn will not come before another 3-4 hours," said Kumkum Bhargav, a primary school teacher in Delhi.
Kunal Bhardwaj, a TCS employee said, "Those who have black money will anyway find methods to get away. It is common man who will suffer. Now we have no option other than waiting in queues as there is no money for basic things as well".
Some people said that the banks should have given tokens.
"In that case we would not have to stand in queue for long, we could have done other works. Then there are old people also in the queue," a customer said in Kolkata.
After withdrawing money from a bank here, some persons were seen taking selfie with the Rs 2,000 currency note.
There was an incident of minor scuffle in front of a bank in Howrah over entering the bank premises.
Only a maximum of Rs 4,000 per person in cash in exchange for the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes was being given per person after submission of valid identity proof. Anything over and above this value was credited to bank account.
Mumbaikars started queueing up as early as 6 AM, nearly 3-4 hours before the banks open.
Several bank officials said most of the branches were witnessing unprecedented huge rush and therefore, they have sought the deployment of police personnel to to prevent any law and order problem.
The customers, however, seemed frustrated with some banks exchanging only Rs 2,000 with Rs 100 notes.
"I was in queue for four hours to exchange Rs 4,000. But unfortunately I was permitted only Rs 2,000 to be exchanged that too with Rs 100 denomination," said Ashwin Kadam, who stood in queue since 6 AM at the branch of Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank limited in Vikhroli in Mumbai.
"I ran out of cash to meet my daily needs. If I do not get new notes, I would be in big trouble. To make sure that I get new notes today, I have came here very early. However, many others were already in the queue when I reached at 6 AM," said A Patel of New Ranip, having bank account in SBI in Ahmedabad.