PIOs, NRIs feel heat of demonetisation; wait in RBI queues

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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.

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