Gulam Jeelani in Hindusan Times, Dec 16, 2i016
In the pic: A retired armyman (Nand Lal, a resident of Bhim Nagar, Gurgaon) in tears before an SBI branch. Face of India’s cash crunch woes talks of heartbreak
(Note: Persons with no social or financial connection and clout can’t get even their monthly pension from their bank account but those with connections at top can get crores in new notes, as black or white. Isn’t that terrible happening in a democracy? That is the plight of the poor man like Lal under Modi’s cash monetization program even after one month. Are those elected to become humble servants of the public become their arrogant oppressors?Lal is just one in a million in India. james kottoor, editor)
A 78-year-old retired army man, who stirred the conscience of a country reeling under a cash crunch after being photographed crying in a bank queue, refused all assistance despite offers pouring in on Friday.
Instead, Nand Lal – a veteran of the 1971 India-Pakistan war – wanted bank authorities to let him withdraw his legitimate pension without further hassle.
“I get pension. I do not want anyone else’s money,” he said. “I don’t want alms, let me withdraw my money.” A photograph of Lal sobbing after losing his spot outside a Gurgaon bank was published in HT on Wednesday and went viral, with thousands sympathising with the ex-soldier who stood in a line for three days without success.
Shortly afterwards, people from all cross sections of society – including his relatives – started visiting his rented room in Bhim Nagar to lend him money.
Among the first visitors was Col (retd) Ajit Singh Rana, the president of Delhi and Haryana chapter of Tri Services Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association (TSEWA), a pan India body helping ex-servicemen, widows and their children.
“I came to know about the plight of a soldier after getting an email from a friend in England. I am glad to find that the bank has given him the money,” Rana said.
Rana confirmed that Nand Lal had joined army as a ‘naik’ during 1971 war and retired in 1991 after a two-decade long service.
Lal was among millions of people who have lined up outside banks to withdraw money after the government’s shock recall of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes a month ago. But a widespread cash crunch has ensured that many people have returned home without money, fuelling anger and distress.