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Billionaires for minutes: How goof-up left 2 Bihar Class 6 students with Rs 906 cr in accounts

While Guruchandra Vishwas got Rs 900 crore in his account, Asit Kumar got Rs 6 crore. Bank noticed and corrected the mistake soon, but now there are calls for inquiry.

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Patna: For a few minutes Wednesday, two children in Katihar district of Bihar, Guruchandra Vishwas and Asit Kumar, became billionaires thanks to a banking goof-up.

The students of Class 6 from Pastiya village in Azamnagar block had gone to the local Grameen Bank to find out if the Bihar government had transferred money for their school uniforms — Rs 1,200 per student. Instead, they found Rs 900 crore in Vishwas’s bank account, and over Rs 6 crore in Kumar’s.

Bank statements showing the credit of Rs 900 crore and Rs 6 crore in two students' accounts in Katihar, Bihar | By special arrangement
Bank statements showing the credit of Rs 900 crore and Rs 6 crore in two students’ accounts in Katihar, Bihar | By special arrangement

As soon as this mistake came to his notice, bank manager Manoj Gupta panicked. He stopped the functioning of the Grameen Bank, which is attached to the local IndusInd Bank, and informed his seniors. But by that time, parents of the two children had checked the accounts at a local internet café in the village, and were amazed at the amounts on display.

“I had gone to take out money to purchase books,” said a stunned Asit Kumar, stressing that he wanted to take out Rs 500. Asked if he expected to see Rs 6 crore in his account, Kumar stayed silent, while his father Fani Lal said he went into shock. “There must be an inquiry into the whole issue,” he said.

However, the euphoria of the villagers didn’t last long, with branch manager Gupta soon explaining there had been a mistake, which had been rectified.

“There was a technical snag in the centralised processing unit of the bank, due to which these huge amounts were shown in the account of these boys for a few minutes. When the error was noticed, it was immediately rectified. Not a single paisa was withdrawn. I had ordered a probe as I have got the report. The confusion was created due to a technical error,” Katihar District Magistrate Udayan Mishra told ThePrint.

The state administration was also stunned.

“Once the finance department releases the funds, we do not have control over expenditure. That lies with the department concerned. If there has been an error on the government side, the question should be asked of the department concerned,” Principal Secretary (Finance) S. Siddhartha told ThePrint.

The department in question would’ve been education, since the transfers were being made to students.

However, speaking off the record, Bihar government officials are not ruling out the possibility of cyber-crime.

Also read: Banking could go the way of news publishing in India — a slow, painful decline

Similar episode in March, but much smaller amount

This is not the only case of a banking goof-up in Bihar. In March this year, the Gramin Bank in Khagaria mistakenly deposited Rs 5.5 lakh in the account of one Ranjit Das, a resident of Mansi block. Das withdrew the entire amount and refused to give it back to the bank despite several notices issued to him.

In fact, Das declared that it was the first instalment of PM Narendra Modi’s 2014 election promise of Rs 15 lakh being deposited in each bank account if the black money stashed outside the country was brought back.

Ultimately, the bank registered a case against Das, and this Tuesday, he was arrested and sent to jail.

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)

Also read: India is walking on one leg because 1991 reforms missed banking & finance


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