A few hours after they had put it up, a few news publications appeared to have taken down a story claiming that a district cooperative bank, with Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah as director, had collected a disproportionately high sum of demonetised notes within days of the Centre’s decision to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes on November 8, 2016.The report, first published by news agency Indo Asian News Service on Thursday, was based on the findings of a Right to Information plea filed by Mumbai activist Manoranjan S Roy. The report said that Rs 745.59 crore of demonetised notes had been deposited with the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank – the highest deposit among district cooperative banks.
These collections were made within a six day window till November 14, 2016, after which the Reserve Bank of India decided to bar district cooperative banks from collecting and exchanging scrapped notes, in light of concerns that the banks could be used to launder ill-gotten wealth. The bank’s total deposits on March 31, 2017, were Rs 5,050 crore and its net profit for 2016-17 was Rs 14.31 crore, the IANS report said.According to the bank’s website, Shah continues to be a director with the bank and has been in that position for several years. He was also the bank’s chairman in 2000. ADCB’s total deposits on March 31, 2017, were Rs 5,050 crore and its net profit for 2016-17 was Rs 14.31 crore.
Right behind ADCB, is the Rajkot District Cooperative Bank, whose chairman Jayeshbhai Vitthalbhai Radadiya is a cabinet minister in Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s government. It got deposits of old currencies worth Rs 693.19 crore.Interestingly, Rajkot is the hub of Gujarat BJP politics – Prime Minister Modi was first elected from there as a legislator in 2001.
Among the websites that took down the story were News18, as Janta Ka Reporter also pointed out, the New Indian Express, and Firstpost. While the links to the articles on News18 and the NewIndianExpress show a 404 error, indicating that the page could not be found, the Firstpost page could not be loaded, even as the rest of the website was responsive.