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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Lockers & shockers

Banks inter-alia provide services of safe deposit vaults or lockers also to the customers. Somehow even after 38 years of service I am not comfortable with this idea. On numerous occasions compensation has been paid for theft. Lot many people keep cash in lockers which is fraught with risk of money laundering. Instead banks can have something like ABC Bank Lockers P Ltd as a subsidiary company & have lockers-only branches all over India on 24*7*365 basis. Lack of funds stops me from setting up such a venture! Some examples:

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This is about a Saturday when every banker wants to push off by 2’o clock. At about 1.30 a couple came in a hurry & requested for opening of locker. Locker manager was not in a mood to oblige as he was ready with his packed bag to take off for weekend. But after impassioned appeals by the lady he relented & allowed her. Her husband somewhat relieved, told her that he would go & park his car properly.

Meantime head cashier called locker manager upstairs as he wanted to close the cash & the manager had to check his books.  Both spent a few minutes together & completed the process. Cash trunk was brought to locker room & placed in a secluded & partitioned safe & locked off. Both came out, switched off the light & closed the heavy double walled steel door.

The lady inside was busy with her gold articles & thought for a moment that electric supply has snapped but when she heard door being closed she shouted but both head cashier & manager did not hear her. She got trapped as steel door was closed. It was pitch dark inside & her shouting was of no use.
Meantime her husband came back & seeing the locker room closed enquired from the manager about her. Manager sensed trouble & immediately rushed to head cashier on ground floor, brought him back & both opened the locker room once again in less than 10 mins.      

She came out deathly pale & slumped into nearest chair. After a glass of water she became somewhat normal.
Well banking job has its own hazards!

*****  

A locker in the name of Smt Chhadammi Devi was not operated for over 7 years & no rent was received. Reminders were received back undelivered. On personal visits no body by that name was found & no whereabouts could be gathered.  Address was of Mahadev Road about 500 meters from the branch. These were official bungalows allotted to either high ranking babus or MPs. And they kept changing frequently therefore no body had any idea about locker holder. Thereafter notice of breaking the locker was published in two local newspapers to which there was no response. Entire process took another year. Eventually it was decided to break open the locker.

In presence of two witnesses, locker incharge & a goldsmith it was broken & only four items were found:

-A packet of Rs.10 denomination of very old variety in bluish colour & of large size which might have been issued in 1950-55 whereas the locker was broken in 1977-78. The packet was off colour, notes were stuck together & the packet had stale smell.

-Two necklaces having length of approx 18 inches each, breadth about two inches with heavy pendants studded with red rubies. On one of them was tied a hand written slip reading ‘Chhoti bahu ke liye’ & on the other ‘Badi bahu ke liye’.

-4th item was a golden Tagri –a golden belt really approx 32 inches in length & two inches broad containing several chains riveted together.
All the items were of exquisite designs & very well crafted. Even the goldsmith was surprised with design & quality of ornaments. He could not weigh even one item as he ran short of standard measuring weights. Next day he brought weights of quarter & half Kg denomination also besides smaller ones. Three items were weighed 820 grams.

Well mystery of Smt Chhadammi Devi remained unsolved. We can die without gold but can’t live without it!

*****

In case of locker number 343, locker holder informed of having lost the key. Company technician was called for breaking open the locker. On appointed day & time in presence of locker in-charge & locker holder the technician broke open the locker. Contents were taken out but the locker holder exclaimed: These are not mine!

They were stunned – instead of 343 they had broken open 348 just above 343!

Contents of 348 were packed & sealed then & there & kept separately in safe custody. Locker holder 348 was traced & requested to visit the branch. After a week he came from Kolkota, unsealed the packet, looked at the contents & talked to wife over phone giving each & every detail of ornaments. Thereafter he declared that such & such jewellery worth 5 lacs was missing!

Locker in charge had sleepless nights & harrowing time till a compromise was reached after four months.

*****

In City branch Sh Singla a VIP customer was chatting with Chief & meantime his wife & daughter in law operated their locker. They joined Sh Singla for a while after operating the locker. All thanked the Chief, said bye & left. After about an hour or so, Goel couple came in the cabin. They had operated their locker & while coming out found a small steel jar which he was holding in his hand. He said that he had not opened it & wanted it to be opened by Chief. On enquiry locker Chief was informed that after Mrs Singla left the locker room no other person had gone in. Presumably the steel jar might belong to Smt Singla.

A phone call to Sh Singla was made. He replied that lockers deptt was handled by his wife & that he was never sure of the contents. Phone call to his wife was made & she explained about contents to Sh Goel  holding the steel jar. Sh Goel opened the jar & spilled the contents on the table & continued to describe items to Smt Singla. There were 19 expensive rings of various sizes & models, four gold & four silver coins in the steel jar. Estimated value was assessed at approx three lacs. Smt Singla was requested to come over & take possession.

Meantime, Sh Goel sent a SMS to his journalist friend who rushed with his camera to the branch. Cameraman from local cable tv also joined before Smt Singla could arrive.

As soon as Sh Goel handed over of steel jar to Smt Singla breaking news flashed across the city courtesy cable tv.
safe?


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