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PIOs, NRIs Feel Heat of Demonetisation; Wait in RBI Queues

New Delhi: After residents, NRIs and People of India Origin (PIO) are now braving long queues to exchange the old Rs 500/1000 notes at 5 designated RBI branches across the country but because of stringent conditions several of them have had to return disappointed.

Tempers ran high outside the central bank branches as people coming from long distances were denied entry by guards on the grounds that they were not carrying the requisite documents.

Many NRIs complained that they are not allowed to speak to officials who could at least listen to their grievances.

“Though I have foreign passport, I still have roots in India. Our family comes to India every year. We have few Indian currency notes and we want to exchange them but we are not allowed to enter RBI. Mr Prime Minister are we supposed to burn Indian currency that we have?,” said Ritu Diwan, an agitated US national.

This unnecessary harassment simply indicates that PIOs are no more welcome to the country of their birth, she added.

Dharamveer, another US national, said PIOs generally keep some amount of Indian currency as they frequently visit India because there is no point in paying commission on exchange of currency on each visit.

“Any PIO who regularly visits India would easily have Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh worth of Indian currency and I challenge the government to prove this as black money and forfeit this from us”, he said, adding that “this money, we don’t spent in the country where we live but country of our origin”.

“It is by chance that we are here at this time and wanted to exchange few currency but we are not allowed to do so. It is very frustrating,” he added.

Many PIOs who were turned away protested that they don’t have crores of rupees but only few thousands which the administration should exchange.

Frustrated at the “high-handedness of RBI” and the “government policy”, there are reports of NRIs throwing defunct Indian currency at the gate of RBI as a mark of protest.

Besides PIOs, many Indian who failed to deposit junked currency notes during the 50-day demonetisation period are also being turned away after standing in the queue for hours.

Disappointed at the flip-flop of the government on the issue, Ram Kumar said Prime Minister in his November 8 address had said that people would have time till March 31 to exchange their old notes at the RBI.

Hoping against hope some are coming repeatedly thinking that if they were lucky they would be allowed by the security guards to enter RBI office for exchange of scrapped currency notes.

Many people said the government should take taxes, if any, but allow them to exchange the old notes as not everyone standing at the RBI gate has black money.

As only 5 RBI offices — in Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Nagpur — are authorised to exchange the currency, people are having to travel long distances.

One person, who first went to RBI’s Jaipur regional office, was directed to go to RBI Delhi for exchange.

With few a thousand rupees in his hand, he nearly broke down when he was turned away by the guards at Delhi RBI.

Unable to get a few junked currency notes exchanged, a frustrated poor woman, as mark of protest, had become topless in front of RBI regional office in Delhi last week.

As per the conditions imposed by RBI, the Indians who were abroad during the 50-day window provided from November 9 to December 30 to deposit the old currency have been given a 3-month grace period till March 31 and NRIs 6 months till June 30 to deposit the junked notes at RBI’s offices.

The Customs officer will strictly count the number of notes and tally the total amount mentioned before stamping the form submitted by the passenger.

While there is no limit on deposit of SBNs by an Indian national who was abroad when the 50-day window was in operation, NRIs can deposit only up to Rs 25,000.

Indians abroad will have to produce a “copy of passport with immigration stamp as proof of the individual’s absence from the country during the period November 9, 2016, to December 30, 2016” as also copies of all bank account statements evidencing that no SBNs of 500 and 1,000 rupees were deposited during the 50-day window.