PMC Bank Depositors Continue Protests, Seek Payback
Depositors of the Punjab Maharashtra and Cooperative Bank Ltd. on Wednesday protested in the financial capital, seeking an immediate payback of their dues from the troubled bank.
The protest, which came a day after a similar agitation, also exposed cracks within the depositors, where two groups of leaders seem to have emerged. Wednesday's protest at the Azad Maidan, the designated protest ground in the financial capital saw the presence of Congress leader and the party's spokesperson Charan Singh Sapra.
Depositors assembled at a specially created pandal in the ground from the morning itself, but the agitation fizzled out with police officials thwarting threats of a march to the Bharatiya Janata Party office in the afternoon. Three of the protesting members were detained by the police and taken away.
"We have decided to go to the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police to seek officials and will continue with the protest," Gurjyot Singh Keer, one of the detained on Wednesday, said. He added Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam is helping the depositors with the initiative at economic offences wing, which is presently investigating the case of cheating.
The EOW has arrested five, including three top officials of PMC and the promoters of realty group Housing Development And Infrastructure Ltd., and pegged the scam at Rs 4,355 crore. PMC officials are alleged to have colluded with the Wadhawans, the promoters of HDIL, to keep writing loans for the realty developer or some dummy fronts floated by it over the last nine years.
The loans were allegedly hidden from RBI and the central bank's supervision also failed to pick up the scam for many years. The RBI put the bank under directions last month after it became clear that the bank had given over Rs 6,500 crore of its overall book of over Rs 9,000 crore to HDIL.
As part of the directions, deposit withdrawals were capped at Rs 1,000 per account and subsequently raised to Rs 40,000 after protests. The RBI says 77 percent of the 16 lakh depositors can get a reprieve with the Rs 40,000 limit.
Five of the depositors have died in the last month, including one who has committed suicide. At least two dozen protests have been held by the depositors across the city. Many of the distraught depositors sounded dejected on Wednesday, with no solution in sight.
"I came to Mumbai from Pakistan as a refugee and the tough days we saw led us to save every penny we could. I am saddened that I chose the PMC Bank and now, I do not know as to when would I get the money back," movie and theatre personality Inderjit Sachdeva, the father of actor Rajeshwari Sachdeva, said. The septuagenarian said most of the protests are now going in vain and additional efforts of moving around are going in vain.