Outside YES Bank’s Kala Nagar branch in Mumbai, a woman clad in a blue niqab sits on a plastic chair, her disquiet apparent in her large eyes. A door swivelled open, and a bank worker summons her to sit inside, away from the sun. But she was seen frantically pacing back and forth outside the branch after a short while. Being seven months pregnant, she cannot sit any longer, definitely not after having waited since 10 am to withdraw cash from the bank, laments the 25-year-old who did not wish to be named.

Her husband is waiting inside the bank to withdraw money using a cheque, which, she says, is one of the few options available for YES Bank account holders like her after the Reserve Bank of India placed the bank under a moratorium. Most ATMs of the bank were also reportedly shut across Mumbai.

Only cheques allowed

It’s 4:15 pm, and there are around 100 people like her, who were issued tokens and asked to wait to withdraw cash using cheques. According to a few account holders who managed to withdraw cash, there are still more than 25 people waiting to collect money, even as the bank workers said it would be shutting by 4:30 pm.

On Friday morning, a long queue of tensed account holders were seen outside the Chembur branch of the bank, who were getting impatient by the minute. Some had been waiting since 9 am. Token numbers have been allotted to depositors to avoid unorderly crowding, and police personnel could be seen standing outside branches.

Niyati Dixit, a marketing executive in her mid-30s, had to delay her work day like several others in the queue to withdraw cash.“I had to inform my boss that I will come to work after withdrawing the balance in my YES bank account. The ATM near my house wasn’t operational last night so I came here today. It’s been two hours now. It’s frustrating because you work all day to earn this money and then you also have to worry about its safety even though it’s in a reputed private bank.”

Internet banking down

The YES Bank moratorium and withdrawal cap of 50,000 has sent several depositors in Mumbai into a state of frenzy. Depositors flocked branches in large numbers as ATMs and internet banking were not functioning.

Several account holders, with urgent requirements and payment commitments, were concerned about their deals getting stuck. “I had collected all my savings and borrowed money from my relatives and a few colleagues to buy a flat in Kurla; the signing of the agreement is on March 11. All that money is in this account. My husband and I didn’t get a minute of sleep last night because now we might not be able to buy the house and are indebted to our friends.” said Vaishali, a secondary school teacher from Sion. Vijay Katekar, a businessman from Ghatkopar who recently lost his savings as a result of the PMC bank fallout, was frustrated about being hit by a double blow. “I have lost trust in the banking system altogether. The account in PMC bank wasn’t even mine; I had transferred some of my savings to my younger brother’s account as he had to show collateral for a loan, I lost my money. At that time I still found myself in a better position, considering the rest of my money was in one of the largest private banks. This was unprecedented for me.”

The situation at the Fort branch of YES Bank in the South Mumbai area was no different. Police barricaded the area, with the queue having extended to the side of the road.

Amar Chaudhari, a naval dockyard worker whose transfer to Kerala is due this week, was worried about his money getting stuck.

“I have my salary account here and all the money to pay the rent deposit and make other arrangements for the shifting. If I am unable to withdraw the whole amount, I have no alternative but borrow money.”