MUMBAI: A depositor of the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank, died of a massive heart attack at 12.30 noon on Tuesday after he was unable to withdraw his savings from the bank. The deceased, Fattomal Punjabi (59), is the second depositor of the bank who has died of heart attack in just under 24 hours.
Punjabi ran a small furniture shop and had an account with the PMC bank’s Mulund branch. According to his elder brother Deepak, he must have had around Rs 8-10 lakh in current account and a couple of FDs. "He had a massive heart attack as he left home to go to the bank. He was immediately rushed to the Gokul hospital nearby, but was declared 'dead on arrival'," he added.
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Punjabi is survived by son Vikas (32) and daughter Geeta Sunil Vishwani (38). His wife had died earlier this year in March. Punjabi had taken part in protests in the last few days as he was facing financial troubles because of the curbs placed on withdrawals by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Deepak said.
On Monday, Sanjay Gulati, a resident of Taporewala Gardens of Oshiwara in Mumbai and customer of the PMC bank, had died of a heart attack. He had gone to the protest along with his 80-year-old father and suffered a heart attack hours after he attended a protest by distressed customers outside a Mumbai court.
The 51-year-old engineer was with Jet Airways and had lost his job a few months back. He died from a heart attack after being unable to withdraw his life savings of Rs 90 lakh from the bank, his friends said.
Komal Panjwani, from the Sachkhand Durbar Gurudwara near Punjabi’s residence said that almost 95 per cent of the people residing in Mulund colony have accounts in the PMC bank and were facing troubles due to the RBI curbs on withdrawal. "It is mentally torturous every time the RBI increases the limit of withdrawal. All of us have to stand in queue to get our money back. First they said that only Rs 1,000 can be withdrawn. Then they slowly increased the limit to Rs 5,000, then Rs 10,000 and last night they said that now Rs 40,000 can be withdrawn. It is harassment," she said.
Sachi Pestonji, an acquaintance of Gulati and a PMC account holder, expressed concern over the deaths and said that this may just be the beginning of tragedies. The PMC Bank was placed under restrictions by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) after it fraudulently extended loans to Housing Development & Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL).
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Worried depositors of the bank, which has deposits of over Rs 11,000 crore, have been protesting across the city, and also forced Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to meet them last week when she was out to address a pre-election media conference here.
Four people, including promoters of realty firm HDIL to which the bank made the sour loans, and the lender's former chairman and ex-managing director have so far been arrested in connection with the alleged Rs 4,355 crore scam.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, while commenting on the crisis, said that his government is following up with the centre to help depositors get their money back. "I will personally be following up on this," he had said.