PMC Bank depositors protest outside Andheri branch

Crisis enters its 54th day

Over a hundred account holders of the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank gathered outside its Poonam Nagar branch to stage a peaceful protest, even as the crisis entered its 54th day on Saturday.

The crisis broke out on September 23, when the Reserve Bank of India placed restrictions on the bank’s transactions after large scale irregularities were detected in the finances. As evidence of huge amounts of money being granted to the Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) group in the form of unsecured loans started coming to light, the Economic Offences Wing and the Enforcement Directorate went on to register offences in the case. Since then, 11 account holders have died so far, and the protesters on Saturday held up placards saying, “These were not deaths, they were murders.”

“Before the Assembly elections, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis assured us that he would look into the matter and raise our complaints at the Centre. We haven’t been approached even once since the elections. My daughter’s marriage is in January, and if my own hard-earned money is of no use to me on such an occasion, what is the point of putting it in a bank?” I would like to ask the RBI, that if the trust of over 15 lakh depositors can be broken due to inaction, how do they expect anyone to maintain faith in the financial institutions of the country?” said Vishwanath Shetty, one of the protesters.

Suman Chauhan, another protester, said none of the delegate meetings with the RBI officials were fruitful. They were always sent back with untrue assurances. “My elder daughter is studying in Germany and my younger daughter, in Pune. I had to call them back in the most crucial time of their educational years,” she said.

Two police vans were deployed at the site but no untoward incidents were reported.

“We are all civilians. We do not want to cause any law and order situations. But we also do not want these protests to die down. We will make sure that these protests yield some results. We will be seeking permission for a hunger strike. We have shot a five-minute play on the griefs of the depositors which will be hitting the Internet soon,” Pratiksha Ojha, another protester said.

Some of them are now forming an association to represent themselves during legal proceedings.

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