It was a sweltering Sunday morning in the first week of May. On return from my morning walk, it occurred to me that I withdraw my monthly pension and I joined a small queue before an ATM. Of the five or six in the queue two were inside the kiosk. Within a few minutes came my turn to use the machine. Having withdrawn the cash, I stepped aside. As I started moving out, uttered one glancing at me, “Sir, you have forgotten to take your withdrawal statement from the machine.” “No, I have taken it,” I replied roundly to the youth.
Months later at the same kiosk, I chanced upon the screen images of someone tossing and craning his neck from behind me. Providentially I abandoned my transaction and turned back to know who it was. For certain, it was none other than the same youth who buttonholed me the other day in the same enclosure pretending to remind me of my withdrawal statement. As I stared at him he began squinting at the walls around to impress upon me that he was not the one peeping into my business. “Please go out and be outside till I finish my transaction,” I told him sternly, pointing out the board on the wall adjacent to the ATM reading “Only one at a time before the ATM”. Implicitly he stirred out and I shut the door in short order. As days rolled by I understood from various news items about the numerous fetches fraudulent youths employ to divert the attention of people in ATM booths.
Aside from such tricks played in ATM enclosures by miscreants, a chilling incident occurred near one of the ATMs in the city during almost the initial days of installation of the facility.
He was a student of our private technical institution hailing from Bangladesh. Once on his return from the bazaar at a late nocturnal hour he withdrew cash from an ATM and began heading for the hostel. On his exit from the booth he alighted upon two young toughs stalking him from afar. Soon he stirred his stumps on that lonely road to the hostel. Looking back, he found the stalkers but a step from him. At once striding over the roadside drain he hopped on a patch of vacant land adjoining the road and squared up. The duo jumped in too, to only receive a volley of sucker punches, swipes and kicks from the foreigner. Daring not to stand longer against him, they took to their heels utterly drubbed.
Rogues of late embark on a novel plot. Coming in a van as a gang of three or four at night they smash the CCTVs, uproot the unguarded teller machine, carry it to any isolated place and discard it after tipping. ATMs laden with currencies appear as treasure troves to robbers who plunder them, the function—killing the goose that lays golden eggs—unbeknown to them.