File photo of Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi on 24 October
File photo of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman | ANI Photo
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New Delhi: As incidents of violence against bankers rise, the Ministry of Finance has written to the chief secretaries of all states seeking effective and timely response by the state administration against the miscreants.

The move has come two weeks after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman called for action in the case of assault on a banker in Surat.

In a letter dated 7 July, Pankaj Jain, additional secretary in the ministry’s department of financial services, requested the chief secretaries to direct district magistrates and state police to take preventive actions.

“Public communication of the state’s resolve and actions to deal firmly with miscreants would also help in deterring miscreants and instilling confidence in the public and banking community,” the letter said.

The letter highlighted that the delivery of essential services is even more important during a pandemic.

“Securing the availability of banking services to the public at all times is essential for households to meet their expenses and access benefits through DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer), and for traders, micro entrepreneurs, farmers, industries etc to carry on economic activities,” the letter said.

It pointed out that instances of bankers being threatened within bank premises needs to be dealt with stern action.

“…such incidents need to be responded to proactively and with a firm hand, stern action taken against such elements with full force of law, so that bankers are protected, and the public assured of secure access to and unhindered availability of banking services,” it added.

ThePrint has seen a copy of the letter and verified that it is genuine.

Also read: India’s Covid-ravaged states seek more funds from Modi govt

Incidents of violence

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Narendra Modi government has relied heavily on banks to provide relief to the worst-hit sections. Be it the monthly Rs 500 deposit in women Jan Dhan accounts or the Rs 3 lakh crore government-guaranteed loans to micro, small and medium enterprises, the banks have been at the forefront of the disbursal.

However, over the last few months, many incidents of unruly and violent customers have sparked fear among bankers about their safety.

Last month, a woman banker working with Canara Bank was physically assaulted in Surat on the premises of the bank by a police constable. This incident prompted the intervention of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who took the matter up with the state administration.

The letter, marked to all bank chiefs as well, asked bankers to sensitise senior bank executives to immediately take stock of such incidents and approach state authorities for appropriate action.

Also read: Migrant workers set to get low-rent housing in cities as Modi cabinet approves scheme


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