PMC Bank crisis claims 5th victim; RBI move likely

Mumbai: The ongoing crisis over the Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank claimed its fifth victim in a week on Saturday amidst speculation that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to take some major decisions in the matter on Tuesday, a day after the Maharashtra Assembly election.

“It’s indeed very sad that a fifth person from Mulund, senior in age, has died this morning. However, the family has requested us not to share any details and we respect their sentiments,” banking expert Vishwan Utagi told IANS.

Advising the crisis-hit bank’s customers and institutional depositors on options to recover their monies, Utagi is preparing to file a public interest litigation against the PMC Bank shortly.

Braving a downpour this morning, over a 100 aggrieved depositors held their eight protest on Saturday, this time near the RBI headquarters in south Mumbai, amidst tight police security.

Besides, four other persons including two women collapsed due to stress during the protest and were rushed to nearby government hospitals for treatment, said a depositor.

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“We have been reliably informed that the RBI will make a major statement in the media pertaining to the PMC Bank depositors’ plight. We are very hopeful it will be in our favour,” claimed a depositor, addressing an impromptu gathering of protesters.

He said if the RBI decision comes in favour of the depositors, they would treat it as a Diwali gift, dance with joy and celebrate with sweets, but warned that if it is against their interests, they would take out a massive protest march and even give up their lives.

On Friday, 83-year old Murlidhar Dhara of Mulund in north-east Mumbai died after he was unable to withdraw money for a heart surgery.

Before him, last Monday, a depositor Sanjay Gulati suffered a cardiac arrest and died at his home in Oshiwara, as all his monies were blocked in the PMC Bank and he could not withdraw cash for his physically challenged son’s treatment.

A day later on Tuesday, another depositor, Fattomal Punjabi, died of a cardiac arrest as his life’s savings were stuck in the bank.

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On Wednesday, a lady doctor named Nivedita Bijlani allegedly committed suicide by consuming an overdose of sleeping pills and the PMC Bank crisis was blamed for triggering the circumstances leading to her taking the extreme step.

Presently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has permitted depositors to withdraw a maximum of Rs 40,000 from the PMC Bank on which it has imposed wide-ranging sanctions for six months starting September.

Since the scam broke out at the start of the festival season, PMC Bank depositors have been running from pillar to post carrying out a series of protests in the city, lodging police complaints and filing court cases against the bank management.

Depositors’ groups have demanded that the RBI should immediately lift the curbs on their deposits, or merge the PMC Bank with some other bigger bank to ensure the safety of their money lying inaccessible in various accounts.

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