‘God As Guard’: Bank With No Locks Opens in India

Shani Shingnapur, the world famous temple town in Maharashtra where houses have neither doors or locks, now has its first commercial bank branch – with no locks on its front door.

Photo: Laura Washburn/Flickr

A bank with no locks on its front door has just been opened in Mumbai, India, to serve the devotees of a deity named Lord Shani, The Times of India reports.

The new bank is the first commercial branch of the United Commercial Bank and has been opened in a small village called Shani Shinganapur, the world famous temple town in Maharashtra, where houses have neither doors or locks.

“We took note of the general belief and faith of the people. Ever since the most revered temple came into existence several years ago, the village has not witnessed a single crime,” a senior bank official told the India Times. “In fact, all houses in the entire village have no doors. We took the risk and started the lockless bank a week ago.”

The people of Shani Shingapur fix only door frames 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.

Local NCP legislator Shankar Gadakh had approached a section of nationalized and private banks about opening a branch in Shani Shinganapur to facilitate the devotees. However, for security reasons, most of them refused to oblige the NCP leader.

“We then approached UCO bank, which agreed. It is certainly taking a risk, but in view of the peoples belief the bank has set up the branch,” a senior NCP leader said.

The legislator said bank officials carefully studied households in the township before starting the branch. “All houses here have no doors. We are following a more or less similar practice,” he said.

“Our branch has doors, but they will never be locked. Adequate precautions are being taken for the safety of lockers and important documents,” he said, adding that in months to come, the branch is planning to start an ATM near the temple.

“People here fear that if there is a theft or robbery, then the culprit and their family have to bear the wrath of Lord Shani,” Gadakh explained.

However, as a precautionary measure, some of the six-member staff of UCO Bank posted there 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 the 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 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 ($2.000) per month. This was not acceptable to the bank authorities, an official said.

On an average, around 5,000 tourists and pilgrims visit the town daily and on weekends the number swells to over 50,000.

Incidentally, on October 25. 2010, the first ever case of robbery was recorded by the Sonai police. A Haryana tourist lost valuables worth around Rs. 35,000 ($770), a Sonai police official said. [via India Times and Dailybhaskar]

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