The queues appeared just as long and crowded, and constituted disaffected and despairing people, made cash-poor by the central government’s demonetisation move. The Punjab National Bank (PNB) branch near the Nangloi Metro Station here was seen to be crowded with at least 150 people, waiting at 8.00 a.m. two hours before the its opening time.
The disaffection seemed to have led people to believe already that the ban is anti-poor, as an individual privy to the scene at the bank day in and day out, suspected the rationale behind it. “So far, I have seen only the poor, labour class people in queues. Yet to see an advocate, a top police officer, a judge, or any local politician coming and waiting,” Asghar, a pan vendor in front of the bank said.
“The rich people don’t have to wait in line, all the money is funneled to them from back channels, without them having to wait in the queues,” he said. “The people start gathering outside the bank as early as 10 p.m. and sleep or chat through the night, so that they could get their cash as soon as possible in the morning, and so that they could avoid being absent from their workplaces,” he added.
Another young man, who manned a fruit stall outside the bank, said that of an ingenious way of mitigating the anguish of standing in queue for long hours – a method which corresponded to the form of a relay race. “My friend is already in the queue, and I’ll replace him once he’s tired. There’s another friend and once he comes, I’ll come back to my ‘rehri’ (cart). This way I won’t lose any business as either me or someone else is always at the stall,” he said.
The queues at the working ATMs in Connaught Place were same as they were the very next day after demonetisation. “I finally withdrew money today after waiting in line for two hours. I survived cashless for days when I would return back home at the very sight of winding queues, but I couldn’t do without cash now,” Apoorva Agnihotri, a logistics company executive, who withdrew money in CP, said.