Angry customers vandalized two SBI branches in Manipur on Monday after the bank refused to allow people to withdraw Rs 24,000 each from their accounts citing cash shortage.
A policeman was injured in violence in one of the banks while a mob damaged windows in another, witnesses and officials said. Bank work was hit in both places but no one has been arrested.
The trouble started at the State Bank of India in Manipur University when two customers insisted on withdrawing Rs 24,000 each – the maximum amount one can take out from the bank a week following demonetisation.
Branch manager Prasad Jain said: “They became angry when it was pointed out that our senior officials had declared that such big amounts could not be withdrawn.”
The customers then turned unruly.
N Birean, a customer, said people who had been queuing up from early in the morning became angry when they were informed they could withdraw only Rs 2,000 each from their savings accounts.
An elderly customer who didn’t want to be named said: “Two thousand rupees is chicken feed. We have been wasting several days for this pittance?”
Sensing the mood, the SBI said the customers could take out Rs 4,000 each. “But the bank will be closed once the cash runs out,” one officer told the crowd.
On hearing this, the account holders started vandalizing the office, the witnesses said. Riot police rushed to the bank to bring the situation under control.
A policeman, Mutum Shyamo, was injured in the violence.
There was a similar incident at another SBI branch at Leimakhong in Imphal West district where account holders damaged windows following heated exchanges with the staff, witnesses said.
Though armed policemen have been deployed in all bank branches in the state, officials say it has become increasingly tough to maintain order as customers who are denied cash become restive.
There have been face-offs between the bank staff and customers in Manipur but this is the first time banks were vandalized.
The November 8 demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has caused a severe cash crunch across the country. Several banks have unilaterally put curbs on how much a customer can withdraw from their accounts.
The RBI says the maximum a person can take out from his or her account is Rs 24,000 a week.