A nationalised bank in Rajkot district 'shut' its operations for half-day today, apparently at the behest of a state minister who accused the officials of not processing the crop insurance payment of farmers.
Local police said the minister only "requested" the bank authorities to speed up the processing of the payment.
In videos of the incident broadcast by news channels, Civil Supplies Minister Jayesh Radadiya of BJP, who represents Jetpur seat, purportedly told the officials of the Jetpur branch of the SBI to close their operations for the remaining day.
Mr Radadiya approached the bank in Jetpur, 75 kms from Rajkot, this afternoon with some farmers who had claimed that their crop insurance payments were delayed by the bank, sources said.
"The bank is not processing the money it had received last year from insurance firms into the accounts of farmers," Mr Radadiya told reporters before the incident occurred.
He claimed an insurance company had last year cleared claims of around 150 farmers in the area and approved payment of Rs 1.75 crore.
"The bank is not releasing the money to the farmers. Officials are also not giving any satisfactory reply when farmers approach them," the minister alleged.
The bank officials were not available for comment.
Jetpur police said the bank officials shut their branch in afternoon after Mr Radadiya's visit.
According to police, the minister only requested the bank officials to speed up their work regarding crop insurance.
"Radadiya came to the SBI branch in Jetpur to make a representation about the non-payment of crop insurance money to some farmers. After Radadiya's visit, the bank shut its operation for the day. The minister only requested the officials to speed up their work related to crop insurance," said Jetpur police inspector M N Rana.
In one video, Mr Radadiya purportedly told the officials not to open the bank till further orders.
"I will not allow any of your branches to run in entire Jetpur...Last year's insurance for groundnut crop is not paid yet..I don't care if it was not done by you or by the insurance firms," Mr Radadiya purportedly told the bank staff.
"Do not open this (branch) without my order..Now wind up your operation," the minister told a bank official.
Mr Radadiya didn't respond to the calls made to him after the alleged incident.
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