Odisha woman drags cot carrying sick mother to bank to get money

Bhawanipatna: A 60-year-old woman in Odisha’s Nuapada district had to drag a cot with her sick mother lying on it to a bank around 300 metres away to withdraw money after its employees allegedly refused to give it to the daughter until the 80-year-old Jan Dhan account holder appears personally.

As a video of the woman purportedly showing Punjimati Dei of Bargaon village dragging a cot with her mother on it, with intermittent breaks to catch her breath, has gone viral. Bank officials described the incident as unfortunate and said it happened because of a communication gap.

YouTube video

The manager of the branch was suspended on Monday after a preliminary enquiry, Utkal Grameen Bank Chairman Ranjit Kumar Mishra said.

“Though payment was made (on June 10), the unfortunate incident had happened. Utkal Grameen Bank regrets the whole incident and the matter is being looked into for necessary action,” the bank said in a statement.

Dei had gone to the branch on June 9 to collect Rs 1,500 from her mother’s Jan Dhan account, which came under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalayan fund to tide over the COVID-19 crisis.

The central government had in March announced Rs 500 monthly assistance for women Jan Dhan bank account holders from April to June.

Some of the villagers claimed that Dei had been to the bank to withdraw money from her mother’s account but the branch officials refused, saying the account holder needs to come to it personally. So, she had to take her mother to the bank on June 10.

As the video triggered a row, the head office of the bank directed its regional manager in Bhawanipatna, Asim Patra, to conduct a probe. Patra said he visited Bargaon on Sunday and conducted a field enquiry into the matter.

The inquiry showed that on June 9, Punjimati Dei visited the Bargaon branch, enquired about the status of the account of her mother Labhe Baghel and asked for the withdrawal of Rs 1,500, which came to the account. The bankers asked for personal appearance of the account holder, he said.

When the woman said that her mother was sick and cannot visit the bank, the branch manager promised her that he will personally visit her house the next day and hand over the money to her mother, Patra said.

“However, the next day around 9.30 am, the daughter took her mother to the bank pulling her on a cot even before the branch opened. The branch manager handed over the money to her mother after it opened,” he said.

The inquiry also revealed that the house of the woman is about 300 meters from the bank, which has only two staff the branch manager and a cashier.

Branch Manager Ajit Pradhan since there was heavy rush in the branch on June 9, he promised the woman that he would visit her house on June 10. But unfortunately, before the opening of the bank, the woman brought her mother to the bank pulling her on a cot.

“It was a misunderstanding on the part of the daughter of the account holder,” he said.

Bank Chairman Ranjit Kumar Mishra said though the branch manager had no intention to harass the woman, he could have coordinated with her in a better way and explained the situation properly, he said.

The unfortunate incident affected the bank’s image and the branch manager was suspended, he said.