Shani Shingnapur, the world famous temple town in Maharashtra where houses have neither doors nor locks, now befittingly has its first commercial bank branch with no locks on its front door. The public sector UCO Bank is the first to throw open the doors of commercial banking to this unique town of 3,000 people. Bowing to local religious sentiments, the bank last week decided to open the branch without a lock on its front door…
The people of Shani Shingnapur fix only door frames, but no doors to their homes and no locks for their safety lockers because they believe the temple is a “living abode” of Lord Shani, the ruling deity. And so strong is the belief that no one dares to attempt theft for fear of inviting Lord Shani’s wrath upon himself and his family. However, as a precautionary measure, some of the six-member staff of UCO Bank posted they take turns to stay within the branch premises all the time.
“There is no lock on the bank’s main entrance. But with cash boxes and other important documents kept inside, security precautions needed to be taken,” said an official. However, the local and district police are not impressed by the ‘lock-less’ bank branch and have already sounded a word of caution to the concerned authorities. For one, keeping large quantities of cash without security could attract undue attention of undesirable elements, a district police official pointed out.
The other banks in the nearest town Sonai have refused to cooperate with the UCO Bank branch to store its cash overnight on public holidays and weekends. The UCO Bank’s own nearest branch is at Ahmednagar, 40 km away, making it an impractical proposition to transfer huge amounts of cash to and fro twice a day by road. The bank authorities discussed security aspects with the police and the local police have offered to provide them armed gunmen – but at a cost of nearly Rs.100,000 per month. This was not acceptable to the bank authorities, an official said.