- Dinesh Bothra, HT
Indian citizens are not the only ones hit by the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes. Pakistani refugees in Rajasthan have also taken a hard knock as they have no bank account or identity card and cannot exchange the old currency with the new ones.
The Pakistani refugees, working in the private sector were paid monthly salaries in the first week of the month but following the demonetization announcement, they are finding it hard to make ends meet.
Hindu Singh Sodha, the president of Seemant Lok Sangthan, an organization struggling for the rights of the Pakistani refugees in Rajasthan said not only the 17,000 refugees living in the state but also another 2 lakh other refugees across other parts of the country have adversely been hit by the government’s decision.
In August, the union home ministry had issued a notification asking the state government to develop a policy mechanism for issuing bank account and driving license to the Pakistani refugees. But the Reserve Bank of India is yet to give the go-ahead for opening bank accounts for these refugees.
Sodha has demanded that some arrangements be put in place for the refugees to facilitate the exchange of currency.
Dr. Rajkumar, who came to India in 2008 from Sangod area of Pakistan, is a dentist. He left Pakistan amid security threats.
“It has become difficult for all the migrants who don’t have bank accounts. How can they change cash of few thousands which they keep with them for day to day expenses?” he said.
Chetan Achu, a native of Tharparkar in Pakistan, is an engineer who moved to India four years ago. He works on contract basis. “I used to get cash in instalments from my employers but now after this decision of demonetization, my employers say they cannot pay cash.”
Dileep Singh, another refugee, said they approached banks but because they do not have any bank account or identity proof, banks have refused to exchange cash for them. “We are shocked how we will be able to change our cash?”
According to the Rajasthan’s home department, at least 17,896 Pak refugees are currently staying in Rajasthan. More than 15,000 of them live in Jodhpur alone