All roads lead to banks in Valley

Amid unrest, customers make beeline to exchange or deposit Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes

Srinagar: Long queues of people were seen at the banks in the Kashmir valley today as officials put in extra hours of work to exchange or deposit Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes demonetised by the government.Despite the routine Hurriyat shutdown call and chilly weather conditions, people made beelines outside the banks in the morning and there was not let up in heavy rush of customers till the afternoon.In view of the ongoing unrest, all district SPs had been issued directions by the DGP to keep a close watch on crowds at the banks and ATMs besides ‘cash focused’ markets to avoid any law and order problems.“Ensure that all required security/law and order arrangements are put in place at all depositing points and other such places where huge rush of public is expected. The SHOs concerned must maintain proper watch and ensure no untoward incident takes place,” the order to the SPs stated.A bank official said there was ‘extraordinary’ rush of customers for depositing and exchanging of currency. “We worked from 10 am to 6 pm today to cater to the extraordinary rush of customers that had come to deposit or exchange the currency. Besides deposit and exchange of currency, routine business transactions, too, took place at the banks,” said an official of the HDFC bank.He added that the banks would continue to work till 6 pm till there was a dip in demand for exchange or depositing of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that had been declared invalid by the government.As expected, the heavy rush at banks irked locals. “There was a ‘fish market-like’ scene at the banks. Scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes took everybody by surprise. The government should have at least allowed normal transactions of these notes in markets till December 31 besides depositing the same in banks. It would have lessened the panic among people,” a local said.A J&K Bank official, too, said there was heavy rush of customers and as announced earlier, the banks would remain open during the weekend as well. “J&K Bank branches and offices will remain open for public transactions this Saturday (November 12) and Sunday (November 13) to meet the heavy demand of the general public after the government announced demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes,” he said. (TNS)