In a first, three women appointed cash custodians for ATMs in J&K, Ladakh

Srinagar: For the first time in the country, three women have been appointed cash custodians for ATMs. Banking automation company AGS, which looks after the working and maintenance of ATMs, has appointed three women – two in J&K and one in Ladakh – as ATM cash custodians.

The three women – Sayeeda Begum, Zakia Banoo and Belqis Banoo – are responsible for loading of cash into the ATMs. The company has chosen to start with Srinagar, which is “the most difficult place because after that it can only get easier”.

33-year-old Syeeda Begum of Rajouri who lives in Jammu with her 13-year-old daughter and businessman husband says, “Initially, I was hesitant to take the job. Even my family had reservations. It was my husband, however, who encouraged me to give it a try. I appeared for an interview and was selected for the job last year.”

Syeeda said her shift begins in the morning when she gets cash from the bank: “Accompanied by a gunman, driver and a fellow custodian, I refill the ATMs assigned to me,’’ she says. Her shift lasts for eight to nine hours.

A postgraduate in history, Sayeeda was teaching in a private school before she switched careers.

“Not used to seeing a woman load cash into an ATM, people usually stare at me. It bothered me in the beginning, not so much now.”

These days women are excelling in every field and I hope more women take up jobs in the cash industry,’’ she says.

Zakia Banoo, 27, is the eldest among five siblings. Her parents are farmers and the job has given her family hope for a better future.

‘A friend told me about the post and after seeking my family’s permission I applied for the post and was selected. Each day, accompanied by a guard, I load the ATM in Kargil town in Ladakh.”

Dedicated to her job, at times Zakia also refills cash on Sunday, in case there is a shortage of cash. “It was quite a unique experience for me and initially it seemed difficult but now I have got the hang of it,” she says.

Captain Partha Samai, group head, HR, AGS Transact Technologies Ltd says, “The work of an ATM officer is not rocket science. It needs meticulous counting, diligence and honesty, which both men and women can posses. It is a baseless idea that this particular job can only be done only by men and not women.”

“The success of our female cash custodians has made us realise that the idea can be replicated in other states of the country,” Samai says.

“Once the lockdown ends, we will start advertising more posts for women as cash custodians across the country. We manage around one lakh ATMs across the country and have more than three thousand vehicles,’’ he said, adding that it was decided to start the scheme from J&K and Himachal Pradesh as fewer women from the states were part of the industry.