Aggrieved depositors of Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank on Tuesday staged a protest outside the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) office in Mumbai, demanding that the central bank lift the restrictions on cash withdrawals.
The account holders will also organise silent marches across the city on Wednesday.
Harpreet Singh Guleria, who works in the financial services sector and has several accounts with PMC Bank, plans to join the peace march. “Since it is a holiday, we will try to bring as many people as possible. I have four savings accounts, one current account and few fixed deposits with PMC. My parents opened these accounts 35 years ago and we used these accounts for sheer convenience and nothing else.”
The bank’s customers have asked for an official meeting with senior RBI executives on Thursday so that they have access to their money.
On September 24, the RBI placed curbs on PMC Bank following allegations of irregularities in certain loan accounts. Initially, the central bank allowed withdrawal of only Rs 1,000 from a savings account, current account, or any other deposit account for six months. The next day, the RBI increased the withdrawal limit to Rs 10,000 per account for six months.
The protesters said this amount is insufficient. Gautam Chabria, the single parent of an autistic child, was also present at the protest, said: “I have saved Rs 50 lakh for my child and parents. Now I am unable to pay for their medical bills. Nobody from the government has even acknowledged that something like this has happened. What is our mistake in this?” he asked.
Congress leader and former Member of Parliament Sanjay Nirupam was also present at the protest. Nirupam told Business Standard, “There is no clarity about the money and customers are not allowed to withdraw their money. How is this acceptable? Poor people are suffering in all this.”
Medical professionals Kaveri Chaddha and Ekta Gupta are worried about the future of their children. Chaddha said she has to pay her daughter’s fee in an American university but all her savings are stuck in PMC Bank. Gupta, on the other hand, has saved her hard-earned money for her daughter’s wedding. “Is it a Ponzi scheme? I have kept my money in a proper bank and it is gone. How is it possible? How is it our fault?” she asked.
Some other said they have to now sell other assets to raise cash.
On Monday, a first information report was registered against PMC Bank Chairman S Waryam Singh, suspended Managing Director Joy Thomas, real estate development company Housing Development & Infrastructure (HDIL), and its promoters Rakesh and Sarang Wadhawan among others by the economic offences wing of the Mumbai police.
Thomas had written a letter to the RBI on September 21 in which he confessed to concealing information from the board, auditors, and regulators, and replacing stressed accounts with dummy accounts to protect HDIL and its promoters. He also provided details of the symbiotic relationship that HDIL’s promoter family Wadhawan and PMC Bank enjoyed.