Police warn PMC Bank victims not to organise protests in poll-bound Mumbai

PMC Bank scam, depositors, protests, rallies, deaths, heart attack, shock, investors, Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank, police, Maharashtra polls, Mumbai
People who had invested around ₹50,000 to ₹13 crore in the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank held a protest march to bring their plight to light. Photo: PTI.

Four bank depositors died of shock fearing dark days ahead ever since the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank scam came to light last month. The Mumbai Police now are denying permission to victims to hold rallies and protest marches ahead of the elections on October 21.

The Police cited the election code of conduct as a reason to deny them permission.

One of the bank depositors, Manali Narkar was mobilising people to hold a protest march to highlight the plight of the depositors who lost money. Speaking to The Federal, she says the police even called her and asked her not to hold rallies, and that she would face consequences if she did. “We wanted to hold a silent march in front of the RBI office near Horniman circle. If they deny even our basic right to protest, how can we raise our voice?” she asks.

Narkar, whose marriage is scheduled for February next year, had kept the money in the bank hoping to use them for marriage expenses. She lost ₹6 lakh while her family members held seven more accounts, which had stored almost ₹40 lakh. Narkar’s family members hold accounts with the bank for the past 27 years and they had built trust over the years, she says.

Also read: Fourth PMC tragedy: Unable to withdraw money 83-year-old heart patient dies

“My family runs a transport business and we have to pay salaries. I can manage as I have my family members to support. But what about people like my maid and cook who have no financial backing?” she asks.

Another depositor, Chandan Karan’s family lost ₹23 lakh and she says it’s a pity that the politicians took advantage of the situation and aren’t coming in support to assure them of something.

“It is the common man who’s suffering. We voted last time with the hope that some change will happen. But I am sorry to say things are not going good and my relatives are withdrawing money from banks out of fear,” Karan says.

Karan replies to her detractors saying she and many others did not keep their money in the bank because of higher interest, but because of the friendly staff and easy service provided by the bank until recently.

Also read: PMC Bank depositors protest outside RBI headquarters

People invested from ₹50,000 to ₹13 crore in the bank and many senior citizens have been living their life based on the income through this interest.

Even as the elections are on October 21, no political parties are assuring anything in writing. They only come to our solidarity march to woo their vote bank, says Karan.

The Supreme Court on Friday (October 18) refused to entertain a petition seeking direction from RBI against the withdrawal limit it imposed.

The PMC Bank is under directions by the RBI since last month and depositors’ withdrawals are capped to ₹40,000 per month by the apex bank. RBI claims that 77 per cent of the customers will be able to fully withdraw their deposits with this move.

Also read: SC to hear plea seeking measures for insuring PMC Bank customers

Ashok Bhau Jadhav, one of the Congress contestants from Andheri West says that the party gave verbal assurance and that they are willing to help and take up the matter in Parliament and request RBI to ease restrictions.

When asked why this did not become a poll issue for the Congress, he says, when the ruling government resorts to arresting anyone who protests, we could not do much.

The Police have arrested four people, including promoters of real estate development firm HDIL to which the bank made the sour loans, in connection with the scam.