In a bizarre issue of alleged ATM maneuvering, a customer of IDBI Bank’s Diphu branch, coerced into paying ten thousand rupees to the bank’s Branch Manager, called the action by the banker manager extortion, because he was under threat. The bank manager denied the charge, describing it as not true.

The victim of the alleged extortion is Shankar Lama, who serves Diphu Government College as a gardener. Mr. Lama claimed that on August 1 he withdraw some money from the IDBI ATM and before punching his card he noticed one 500 rupee note popping out from the ATM delivery slot; seeing no one nearby and failing to identify the actual person whose money it was, he kept the sum with him.

Allegation Against Bank Manager

Bank ATM keypad

Bank ATM

On August 3 Shankar Lama and his wife were in a tea stall in Diphu market, when the couple was taken to the branch of the bank by the security guard. There, he was thoroughly grilled by the branch manager, Utpal Kakoti. Shankar Lama alleges that the bank manager said  the money which Mr. Lama took from the ATM belonged to another bank customer. Lama alleges the bank manager would hand him over to police if he did not pay twenty thousand rupees as recompense money if he doesn’t want any trouble.

The uninformed person finding no other solution left his pregnant wife at the bank as his guarantor, while he went to his quarters accompanied by a bank employee, and brought his passbook and ATM cards of other banks, where he managed to pay Rs. 10,000/-. The bank manager released him only after promising that he will pay the balance amount within a few days.

IDBI Bank Manager

Today when this correspondent communicated with Utpal Kakoti, the branch manager, he claimed that Shankar Lama committed theft from the ATM and his act was detected by the bank on the basis of a complaint made by the other customer who failed to collect his money from the ATM slot. Kakoti said the other customer was prepared to file a police case to recovr the money and just to save Lama from trouble he acted as go between and forced the money from him for his customer.

Shankar Lama and his wife told the media that it was not possible for them to identify the actual possessor of the money so they could not refund the sum and it did not occur to them to contact the IDBI bank. “How can I know from whose account the money has been withdrawn or which bank this account belongs to, when Kakoti quizzed me I readily agreed to refund Rs. 500/- which I took from the ATM slot but Kakoti denied my request and insisted on imposing punitive punishment, I was compelled to pay Rs.10,000/- that day itself,” Lama said.

Whatever actually happened, it seems very odd that the branch manager of a government financial enterprise exploits a customer mentally and financially, going out of his way to satisfy some illogical and illegal whims of another customer and commits an unlawful act.

Further Investigation Needed

People in Diphu demanded the immediate intervention by a higher authority in the IDBI bank and the consumers forum to look into the matter.

About 

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in the north eastern states of Assam and Meghalaya, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora, and the things that affect them.