SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir Bank, having highest number of automated teller machines in the state, on Saturday blamed non-availability of internet services by private telecom operators for inability to make all its ATMs operation in the Valley.
Advocate Roashan Khayal, the Law Officer of the Bank filed a status report before J&K high court, stating that out of 589 ATMs, 431 were functional as on July 21.
He said that the Bank has been making use of leased internet lines provided by BSNL, VSAT by Airtel and 3G services provided by Reliance.
“Due to blockage of Airtel and Reliance services, ATMs operationalized through the service providers are not functioning.,” he said, emphasizing that as soon as the mobile services are restored, the non-functional ATMs will also become functional.
With regard to functioning of Bank Branches, he said out of 442 branches in the Kashmir, 252 were functional till July 21 and 190 were closed. He said Bank was making all possible efforts to make functional all its branches and ATMs.
“Due to curfew in the Valley, several members of the bank’s staff are unable to reach braches especially in the deep interior city and far flung rural areas and obstructions are being created in free movement of the staff by some people across length and breadth of the Valley,” he said.
He also stated that even attempts were made to remove cash from ATMs by thieves at Nowshera area of Srinagar while one of the cash vans was stopped by some persons who attacked the driver and custodian of the cash.
In light of the law officer’s statement, the Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganie submitted that police will allow the bank staff to go to their offices and their identity cards shall be treated as curfew passes. “In view of the submission, there may not be any difficulty to the staff of the Jammu & Kashmir Bank to reach the bank offices,” a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar said.
In so far as the contention raised by the bank’s law officer that at some places people do not allow the bank officials to open the branches, the court said that it can be tackled by seeking police protection by the Branch Managers.
“This reason to keep the branches closed is not a good and sufficient reason to close the branches. Thus, the Bank authorities are directed to ensure functioning of all the ATMs and the Branches in the Valley,” the court added.
It also ordered the Advocate General to write to the Regional Managers or concerned officers of State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and other Banks for ensuring operation of the ATMs as well their Branches in the Valley so as to enable the public to take money for their day to day expenses.