PATNA: In two tragic side-effects of demonetisation in Bihar, an infant was found dead in the arms of his mother as she stood in a long, suffocating queue in a bank and a man’s body was held captive by a private hospital for over 12 hours as his kin were unable to pay the pending bills with new Rs 500 notes.
Arguna Khatoon was holding her 32-day-old daughter in her arms as she stood in a queue of scores of people in an overtly stuffy, small room in United Bank of India’s branch at Balrampur in Katihar district. She urgently wanted to withdraw some cash from her account as she had no money to buy provisions for her family and most nearby ATMs were standing either defunct or cashless. When she came out an hour and a half later with cash in her hand, sweating in the unusual early-winter humidity, she had a look at her infant and found it totally motionless. The infant, named Noor Fatma, had died some half an hour ago.
Dr Rajiv Sharma, a doctor at a primary health centre in the town where a distraught Arguna had then rushed with her infant, examined the infant and said she died possibly because of suffocation. The incident prompted an angry mob damage property at the bank. “The people stopped vandalising only after a sum of Rs 20,000 was sanctioned for the woman from the chief minister’s family scheme,” said Feroze Akhtar, SDO of Barsoi.
In Darbhanga, the body of Mohammad Ilyas was held up by the privately managed RB Memorial Hospital for over 12 hours allegedly because his kin could not manage to get new Rs 500 notes to pay the pending bills. “We had only the old notes and ATMs in the area were not working. But the hospital just would not listen to our pleas,” said Tazbul Rahman, a grieving relative. Darbhanga ASP Dilnawaz Hassan said police intervened after receiving complaint from the dead man’s kin. The hospital’s manager, Dr Sanjiv Mishra, however, denied wrongdoing on part of the hospital staff.
Many ATMs across Bihar are still standing wither defunct or cashless and long queues are seen in front of many banks.