Imphal: Banks in Manipur are facing increasing threat by extortion calls from extremists and armed organizations and many of the banks operating in the branch have either shut down their branches or are contemplating to do so. The United Bank of India (UBI) is the latest bank, to do so with most of its employees deciding to cease the work since yesterday.
Harassed employees of at least 15 branches of the said bank declined to return to work despite repeated requests and pressure to do so from bank authorities placed at Kolkata. This sudden close-down has resulted a big loss in banking transactions, which used to run into crores on a daily basis.
UBI was the largest bank in India, before being merged into State Bank of India (SBI). SBI presently has a strong presence in the state. UBI was engaged in a wide spectrum of banking transactions including commercial transactions, salary and pension distribution of employees belonging to various Government organizations in the state. Now all this has come to a grinding halt.
Militant threat in the state has forced the bank employees to take such drastic step and the United Forum of Banks Union, which represents the bank officials has decided to cease the work indefinitely until the militants withdraw their demands. The headquarters of the bank had earlier asked the bank officials to continue their work and not relent to any militant demands. But the increased security risk from armed militants have forced the employees on back-foot.
The police of the area have registered a suo moto case and decided to investigate the matter. Earlier LIC Imphal Branch was also closed for more than two weeks in June 2007, under similar circumstances. Financial institutions have always been a soft targets for militant organizations who blatantly ask for money and threaten the employees.