Demonetisation Deaths: 31 Deaths In 7 Days - A Definitive List
NEW DELHI: It has been a week since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement that demonetised 500 and 1000 rupee notes. The week has been characterised by chaos, with citizens complaining that they are unable to change their money despite standing for hours in long queues as banks routinely run out of new notes and lower denomination currency. ATMs are often not in service, and the majority of those operational are not fitted with the technology to dispense the new 2000 rupee note.
Opinion of the move, however, seems divided, as many feel that the inconvenience caused is worth the larger benefit -- namely, tackling black money in India’s large economy. Others argue that the move does little to curb black money, which needs to be understood as a flow as opposed to a stock. The argument opposing the move adds that the proposed shift toward a “cashless economy” is an “elitist pipedream” -- and the Indian economy is cash-heavy by design. This is owing to the fact that the informal sector constitutes 90 percent of the Indian economy, and comprises of 93 percent of the workforce -- with its dealings largely in cash. Additionally, a significant proportion of the Indian population is fiscally illiterate, with either no bank accounts, or dormant accounts that have never been used. Critics of the move argue that it is this section that will be the worst hit, while the move will do little to curb the problem of black money as a majority of black money is in bullion, real estate and in foreign bank accounts.
As the debate continues on TV channels and in people’s homes across the country, the human cost of demonetisation has made itself apparent in the last week. A number of people have died -- waiting in queues, unable to reach hospital or access medical treatment, having committed suicide, met with accidents, and even a reported case of demonetisation-related murder.
While there is no official tally on the deaths, here is an definitive list of demonetisation deaths that have appeared in various media reports. It is worth adding that these are reported deaths, and the actual toll may even be higher.
1. The first news of a reported death came from Gorakhpur. A 40 year old washerwoman died -- apparently of shock -- when she found out at the bank that her 500 and 1000 rupee notes no longer will be accepted (HT).
2. In Kanpur, a young man died reportedly whilst hearing PM Modi’s announcement on TV. The man had received Rs. 70 lakhs after selling his land just the previous day (ABPNews).
3. In Faizabad, UP, a businessman reportedly felt chest pain while hearing PM Modi’s announcement. He died before a doctor could be called in (FinancialExpress).
4. An eight year old girl died reportedly because of a delay in treatment, as her father could not get petrol to take her to the hospital on time after pumps refused to accept his 1000 rupee note (HT).
5. In Pali, Rajasthan, a boy died as his parents were unable to arrange an ambulance because they had only old notes (IE).
6. In Mainpuri, UP, doctors stopped treatment of a one year old ill boy whose parents ran out of 100 rupee notes (TOI).
7. In Vizag, an 18 month old child died as the hospital refused to accept old notes (TOI).
8. In Mumbai, a child reportedly died after a hospital refused to admit him as parents only had old currency notes (MumbaiMirror).
9. In Mahubabad district of Telangana, a woman committed suicide as she thought her savings of Rs 54 lakhs - that she had collected to pay for her husband’s treatment and daughter’s dowry - were now worthless (HT).
10. In Surendranagar, Gujarat, a 69 collapsed and died in a queue (PTI).
11. In Raigarh, a 45 year old farmer committed suicide after being unable to change money for three days (FirstPost).
12. A 40 year old woman committed suicide in Chikballapur district of Karnataka after she lost Rs. 15,000 while trying to deposit it at the bank. She had hidden the money from her alcoholic husband (NIE).
13. A 50 year old mother committed suicide unable to change money to feed her two children (TOI).
14. A 24 year old woman hung herself in Delhi after being unable to change currency notes (IE).
15. In Bulandshahr, UP, in a hospital owned by BJP Minister Mahesh Sharma, a child reportedly died because the hospital insisted on a deposit before administering treatment and the parents only had old currency notes (FinancialExpress).
16. A 70 year old retired school teacher died at the bank in Jalaun, eastern Uttar Pradesh. His son blamed stress resulting from trying to change money for upcoming marriage expenses (HT).
17. A 60 year old factory worker in Meerut died of a heart attack while waiting in line at the bank; this was his third attempt to change currency notes (TOI).
18. A farmer in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh committed suicide as he was unable to change money to buy fertiliser and seeds in time for Rabi season (HT)
19. A 75 year old man collapsed while waiting in line to deposit money at Andhra Bank branch Secunderabad, Telangana (News18).
20. A two year old died in Odisha as autorickshaw drivers refused to 500 rupee notes to take her to the hospital and her family were unable to arrange for smaller denominations in time (Report Odisha).
21. A 17 year old boy committed suicide allegedly over not possessing smaller denomination notes, police said (HuffPost).
22. In Udupi, Karnataka, a 96 year old man died while waiting in line at a bank that hadn’t even opened yet (TOI).
23. In Sagar, MP, an elderly man died while waiting in a queue at the bank (PTI).
24. In Alappuzha district, Kerala, an elderly man collapsed and died after waiting for over an hour at a bank (PTI).
25. In Mumbai, an elderly man died of a heart attack while trying to deposit money (HT).
26. In Tarapur in Gujarat, a farmer died of a heart attack while trying to exchange old notes (PTI).
27. Sukhdev Singh died of heart attack in Tarn Taran, Punjab four days before his daughter’s wedding. His wife said, “Nobody was accepting the money we had saved for daughter's marriage. My husband was tense due to this. He had complained of chest pain and died” (IE).
28. In Kaimur district of Bihar, a man died of a heart attack, reportedly from stress that the Rs. 35,000 that he had collected for his daughter’s dowry would now be useless (IndiaToday).
29. In Thalassery, Kerala, a man fell from the second floor while filling a deposit slip and died (NIE).
30. In Bhopal, a cashier died of a heart attack (HT).
31. In Howrah, West Bengal, a man murdered his wife because she returned home empty handed from the ATM (TOI).
(Partly compiled using HuffPost’s list)