United Bank of India close all offices in Manipur following extortion threats

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Imphal, Jan 10 : A demand for 10 lakh rupees coupled with threats, has forced the United Bank of India (UBI) to close all its branches in Manipur for the second consecutive day, bringing financial transactions to a complete halt.

A militant group, whose name has not been revealed by the employees for fear of reprisals, served the extortion note to the UBI.

The decision to close down the branches was taken by the United Forum of Bank Unions in UBI, Manipur.

"Earlier also, there were many demands but the last one is very high, which is beyond the means of the bank employees to pay. So they have threatened us that unless you pay this amount, the bank will be closed down and there will be bomb blasting at the office," said M. Chandra Sekhar Singh, Senior Manager.

Singh added that there is a threat to their life as militants have said that they won't spare anyone.

The closure of the banks has affected banking services.

Pensioners claimed they were the worst affected.

"Pensioners are not getting pensions for the last three-four months," said H. Yaima Singh, a customer.

UBI is among the two leading banks in the state which conducts transactions of government funds, including that of payment of pension, the other being the State Bank of India (SBI).

As per reports, the bank authority in Imphal was reportedly instructed by its head office in Kolkata to open the bank as usual and not to pay the extortion money demanded by the militants from any source.

The head office reportedly added that it would not bear any consequences arising out of payment of the extortion amount.

There are around 5000 account holders of the UBI in the state. Moreover, the transaction of funds of the National Rural Employment Generation Scheme in the districts where it is implemented, is done through the branches of the UBI.

It may be recalled that UBI had opened its regional office at Imphal but it was closed down in 2001.

Afterwards, all the branches and offices of the UBI came under the control of its regional office at Silchar in Assam.

The union release appealed to the outlaw organisations to withdraw their extortion demand in the interest of the general public while regretting the inconvenience caused to the banks customers due to closure.

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