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November 12, 2016 05:04 AM

COURSTEY Nov 12 2016 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad)
shish Chauhan

Viral Ajmera, the owner of a car garage, was incredulous when an octogenarian beggar, Zohrabibi Shaikh, asked him to help her con vert old cur rency worth Rs 2 lakh into valid curren cy, a day after the Centre's demonetizaohrabibi begs at tion move. Zohrabibi begs at Jumman Shah Pir shrine on the Ashram Road, where she is a regular every Thursday when the shrine attracts a surge of devotees. Ajmera's garage is near the shrine.
“ When shecame for help, I asked her how much she had, and she raised two fingers,“ Ajmera said. “I told her I would be happy to help her exchange Rs 2,000.She corrected me and said she had Rs 2 lakh! I was surprised to know that she had that so much in savings.“

Zohrabibi said that when she was young, she used to black-market cinema tickets. Single-screen theatres were thriving in the city at the time. She used to enjoy a considerable hold on the business of selling tickets of hit films from cinema halls on the Ashram Road.But when single screens disappeared, she took to begging.

In 2002, a mob vandalized Zohrabibi's house near Idg ah in Shaibaug. “We scooted with whatever belongings we could gather and settled in Juhapura,“ she said. Because of a dispute with her daughter-inlaw, she left her home and started staying at a petrol pump in Navrangpura.

The sudden demonetiz at i o n l e f t h e r wo r r i e d about the cash. But she found out in a day that she could deposit the money in a bank. She has decided to forget the domestic battle and is hoping to deposit the money in her daught e ri n l aw 's a c c o u n t .“Some of the money can be de posited in my g randdaughter's bank account too,“ she said.

Destitute hit the hardest

Demonetization has hit the destitute hard. Fatima Rathod, 80, who begs to feed herself and her grandson aged around 15, said that she used to convert her everyday earnings into bigger denominations. “I had two Rs 500 notes, but when the denomination was declared invalid, I had to give the money to my nephew,“ Rathod said. “He has a bank account and is supposed to return the money to me once he manages to convert it.“ Rathod begs in front of the Sardar Patel Smarak in Lal Darwaza area. Her grandson has physical and mental disabilities. Rathod lamented that people have not been generous enough to part with change over the past two days.“Earlier, I used to get Rs 200 to Rs 300 on Jumma (Friday) in front of a mosque here. But I just got Rs 50 today,“ she said. Ramji Nath, 80, who begs in the same area, said that he too has Rs 500 notes but he is unable to get valid currency because he does not have a bank account. When asked if he knew about the Jan Dhan Yojna, he said: “What is that

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