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India’s Crackdown On Currency Draws Tens Of Thousands Of Protesters

India’s move to remove high-value banknotes from the monetary system is not sitting well with regular Indians, tens of thousands which are protesting around the country.

According to a report, around 25,000 people protested in the eastern city of Kolkata. The city’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, has warned of “riots and epidemics” if the ban on the currency continues, noted the report. One protester said in the report he was forced to shut down his grocery store because business has slowed down so much since the move on the currency. “Running my shop became impossible,” the 45-year-old told AFP news agency. The report noted around 6,000 protested in Mumbai.

On Monday (Nov. 28), the government in India instituted an 85 percent penalty for anyone who has undeclared money but would only charge 50 percent for anyone who comes forward on their own. That proposal hasn’t been approved as of yet.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country’s 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee banknotes are being taken out of circulation. As reported by the BBC, taking those notes out of the financial system represents an effort to stymie fraud efforts, corruption and what the site noted as “illegal cash holdings.” Modi stated that the illegal activities are among the “biggest obstacles in eradicating poverty” — with a bead being drawn on tax evaders, according to the BBC.

In place of the 500- and 1,000-rupee notes, a new set of 500-rupee and 2,000-rupee notes are being issued as replacements. Banks have 50 days to comply with the new directive, with individuals able to exchange those notes beginning Nov. 10 and extending through Dec. 30. As the site noted, earlier this year, the Indian government garnered roughly $10 billion through a tax amnesty program, through which Indian citizens were able to declare assets and income that had been previously hidden.

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