• Oliver Fredrick and Anupam Srivastava, HT, Lucknow
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Sarju Devi shows the bag containing Re 1 coins. (Oliver Fredrick)

Life has been a story of setbacks for Sarju Devi, a resident of Maurawa road in Mohanlalganj, but she is a fighter. The woman in her late 60s has faced struggle – be it at the time when she lost her husband, or when her young son was diagnosed with last-stage-abdominal cancer. But what happened on Tuesday left her crestfallen.

On the day, Sarju couldn’t control her emotions when a banker handed her over a bag, packed with Re 1 coins against Rs 2,000 (in old denominations), which she went to exchange at a bank in Mohanlalganj, 25km from Lucknow.

“Is it justified? After spending hours in queues, to get my own money, I am being paid in one rupee coins. The bag weighs around 17kg, that I couldn’t even carry home,” lamented Sarju Devi, accusing the bankers of apathy. She had to call her son to help take the bag home.

Sarju said she pleaded the woman cashier to take the coins back as it would be of little help to her ailing son whose check-up was due.

“The cashier turned a deaf ear to all my pleas and replied, ‘jo milega wohi to denge (bank will give money in whatever denominations it will receive), lena ho to lo, warna jao (take it, or go back),” said Sarju, as she showed the reports of her son Ram Kumar Yadav.

Her son was diagnosed with cancer last year and the chief minister had granted an amount of Rs 1 lakh for his treatment.

The cash crunch has left Sarju demoralised as she doesn’t have any more money for her son’s check up. “Radio therapy keeps my son going. Since three days, we couldn’t get it done as no one is accepting the change. They don’t have time to count Re 1 coins,” she added.

Sarju is not the only one facing problems. Mohanlalganj has many others who echoed similar sentiments – they are those who have marriages in their families.

“It’s really unfair on the PM’s part. Did he ever imagine how families having marriages would combat the situation with mere Rs 24,000 withdrawal limit. Nobody is ready to accept payments through cheques, as clearance will take three days. In a small town like Mohanlalganj, people don’t believe in cashless transactions,” said Mohammed Abdul Ghani, whose sister Razia Bano’s marriage is scheduled on December 10.

He said when he went to buy a bike for his would-be brother-in-law, the showroom people asked for Rs6,000 extra to accept old currency.

Rajesh Sharma, a farmer whose daughter’s marriage is scheduled on November 21, is also not convinced with the demonetisation move. “I am paying through cheques as I don’t have any other option. Though not everyone is accepting it, but I am convincing all that the cheque would be cleared,” said Sharma.

A few farmers, hailing from Chibau Khera village in Mohanlalganj said the central government’s move has affected farming as well.

“Most of the farmers deal in cash. How will they get pumps, fertilisers and other equipment when there is no cash…the problem seems to be big, as of now,” said Lalla Ram, a farmer Chibau Khera village.

Even as others are cribbing over demonetisation, people of Bindaua – one of the backward Dalit villages of the town, still believe there is a ray of hope.

“We should give at least 50 days’ time to the Prime Minister and I am sure things will get streamlined,” said Sujit Kumar, a youth from Bindaua village.http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/struggling-with-change-post-demonetisation/story-BJMF7cKKyYmY3t7g3OGgxI.html