Mini Punjab restaurant owners upset after being dragged into PMC Bank controversy

Updated: Oct 09, 2019, 07:29 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon |

Owners of the Bandra West eatery, that saw a protest by PMC Bank account holders, say they themselves are victims with accounts in the bank

PMC Bank account holders protest outside Mini Punjab's at Bandra West
PMC Bank account holders protest outside Mini Punjab's at Bandra West

The owners of Mini Punjab's restaurant are upset that their names have been dragged into the PMC Bank issue. On Sunday evening, account holders protested outside the restaurant at Bandra West, and had circulated messages on social media asking other account holders to boycott it. The owners of the restaurant have refuted the charges and claim that they have nothing to do with the bank directors, and in fact, they themselves have accounts in the bank.

Speaking to mid-day, Kuldeep Singh Arora, 57, proprietor of the restaurant that has been located in Bandra for the past two decades said, "It was surprising to see protestors raise anti-Mini Punjab's slogans. We have nothing to do with PMC Bank directors. We ourselves have six of our savings and current accounts with PMC's Sion and Bandra West branches. We have never taken any loan from PMC Bank."

On Sunday, a little after 4 pm, protestors arrived and some patrons had to be escorted out safely. "We informed the police control room and a team from Bandra police station arrived immediately. The police asked protestors not to manhandle hotel staff or vandalise it. Protesters shouted slogans against the restaurant for few minutes, before leaving," said Kuldeep.

Sunmeet Singh Arora says they have documents and licences from BMC including utility bills in the name of his father, Kuldeep Singh Arora. Pic/Shadab Khan
Sunmeet Singh Arora says they have documents and licences from BMC including utility bills in the name of his father, Kuldeep Singh Arora. Pic/Shadab Khan

'Nothing to do with restaurant'
Asked about his relations with Surjit Singh Arora, a member of the board of directors of PMC Bank, Kuldeep said, "He is a distant relative and into the catering business. But he has nothing to do with our restaurant." Preliminary inquiries revealed that the misunderstanding came about because protestors were allegedly informed by some people with vested interests, that Surjit Singh Arora was the owner of Mini Punjab's at Bandra West.

"We had six bank accounts with PMC Bank. We are victims like thousands of other PMC account holders. We had approximately R60 lakh in total in these accounts, which also include our personal saving accounts," said Sunmeet Singh Arora, 27, son of Kuldeep. "We have documents and licenses from BMC including utility bills in the name of my father, Kuldeep Singh Arora. Surjit Singh Arora has nothing to do with us. We are seeking legal opinion and are also taking up the issue with the police to resolve this misunderstanding," said Sunmeet.

Kuldeep added, "Since the protest, we have been receiving numerous phone calls asking if we have shut down the hotel. Already the business is down during the festive season and such propaganda against us seems to be a deliberate attempt to malign the image of our restaurant. We want to know the brain or group behind this, so that we can explain to them our side and clear the misunderstanding."

Kuldeep is also concerned about a wedding in the family in December this year. "Sunmeet is getting married and we are concerned with our funds getting blocked in PMC Bank. And now this protest has impacted us adversely," he said.

Lawyer speak
Senior lawyer Jamshed Mistry said, "This misinformation campaign should be put to rest immediately as it is diverting the attention of affected people from the real issue. And if someone is falsely accused and his image/business is maligned, he is entitled to both civil and criminal legal recourse under the law."

Expert speak
"People need to verify the source of anything they receive on social media and refrain from making any forwards recklessly without application of common sense. If something in real life is defamatory, the principle would remain the same even for posting objectionable or defamatory content on social media," explained Brijesh Singh, Special IGP (Cyber), Government of Maharashtra.

Singh added, "Victims of such social media abuse can immediately report it on every platform for the same, and once the platform looks into such a complaint and finds the post objectionable, it can warn such users or pull down such objectionable content or block the user."

PMC staff to get salary

Employees of PMC Bank, whose salary accounts were with it earlier, have been directed to open new accounts with a private bank, where the salary will be deposited this week.
In another development, Guru Nanak Vidyak Society (GNVS), has appointed Vishwas Utagi, Vice President, All India Bank Employees Association, as legal consultant to take up the matter in the court.

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