US-based Anant Pal Singh made a dash for the RBI office from the Delhi airport today to get his demonetised currency notes exchanged, only to have his patience tested while standing in a serpentine queue to get his job done.
The deadline for exchange of invalid notes by residents who were abroad during the cash ban ended this evening. The window for NRIs will, however, remain open till June 30.
“I got all the Customs formalities done at the airport and just rushed from there straight to RBI. I couldn’t sleep as long as I had those old currency bills with me. Glad it’s finally off my back, but I had to stand in the queue for hours,” Singh said.
His wife Surjeet Kaur, who took care of children in a car, while Singh stood in the line, said, “We live in California and divide our time between India and the US.”
“We were not in Delhi when the demonetisation took place.
I am glad we got this done today as we are here only for a few more days,” she said.
But not many were as fortunate.
“I was out of India last November-December. There was some confusion regarding the last date also. I came very late today and couldn’t get my currency exchanged,” said Nikhil Bansal, who resides in south Delhi.
Though the 31 March deadline pertained to Indians who were abroad during the 50-day demonetisation period from November 8, many people, who were in the country but could not get the currency exchanged, made a last-ditch effort as the gates of RBI closed for the day.
90-year-old Gulabo Devi, who came from a village near Aligarh, along with her daughter Sunita, made a tearful plea to the Prime Minister to get her old notes exchanged.
“Modiji tell me what should I do? I live alone and I am left with Rs 13,000 in old notes. How will I survive? Please help me,” she pleaded as RBI officials looked the other way.
Then, there were people who were ill or underwent surgical operation recently. They contended their cases should be treated as exceptional.
“I suffered from chikungunya in November and then had to go for heart check-up. I was not in a position to stand in a queue. The government must think of us,” 60-year-old Malti Devi, said.
Among those standing in the winding queues were some who had a death in the family and the cash was later found stashed in an attic or kept wrapped in a saree in a secluded corner.
“My mother died in February and we were busy with her last rites. Then we searched her boxes and found old currency notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations. Now, what do we do?” Nisha Thakur, a resident of Dilshad Garden, asked after being turned away.