500-rupee notes rain down near Banke Bihari temple Vrindavan
Agra: It rained in Vrindavan on Saturday – what came down was not water, but 500-rupee notes. People ran helter-skelter to pick up the notes that a monkey was showering over them in Vrindavan . Some investigation revealed that a devotee from Mumbai at the Banke Bihari temple had been divested of her purse by the simian, which ran amok with three bundles of Rs 500 notes – Rs 1.5 lakh in all – that was lying in it.
People who were present near the temple at the time the monkey snatched her bag told 50-year-old Hemvati Sonkar, who had arrived here from Borivali in Mumbai, to give the monkey something to eat and distract it, so it would throw her bag back. On a hot afternoon, though, there were few roadside food stalls to choose from. As the family chased about for a food vendor, someone made off with her mobile phone, worth Rs 30,000.
The wailing and helpless woman told those who would listen that she was on a trip with her husband and two daughters to Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan. The family was set to return to New Delhi to take a flight back to Mumbai on Sunday. After paying their respects at the Krishna Janambhoomi and Dwarikadheesh temples in Mathura, they had stopped at the famous Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan on Saturday afternoon.
After offering prayers in the temple, which closed past noon, the family did a round of shopping at roadside shops. They were in the narrow lanes near Banke Bihari when what seemed like a giant simian swooped down and snatched the woman’s bag near the Vankhandi tri-section around 2 pm. The woman said she was carrying three 100-note bundles of 500-rupee notes in the bag.
The monkey sat atop a shop on a ledge, opened the bag and began to wave the notes. It then managed to unbundle the notes and fling them in the air. Seeing the notes flying about, a large number of people rushed to collect what they could.
Uma Krishna, who was present at the spot, told TOI, “The widows who beg outside the temple and a bunch of kids and several shopkeepers collected the falling notes. There were also some young men who scooped up what they could to return the notes to the family. As one of the daughters of the woman stooped to collect the notes, someone made off with the mobile phone that was sticking outside the rear pocket of her pants.”
Akshat Goswami, a regular at the temple, said a temple worker’s son was left richer by Rs 3,000 after collecting the notes that rained down.
The temple was closed at the time that the monkey snatched the bag – vendors who sell bananas and fruit drinks were also taking a break, so the woman could not find anything with which to divert the attention of the animal. The woman and her family left Vrindavan with heavy hearts.
Meanwhile, another woman whose bag was briefly snatched by a monkey was lucky to be able to lure the animal with pedas. Shristi Jain was visiting Banke Bihari temple from Delhi on Saturday when her bag was “stolen” by a monkey. Soon as the animal laid hands on the sweets, though, it let go of the bag.
Vrindavan police inspector Sanjay Jaiswal said he was aware of both incidents. He said no one had, however, approached police with a complaint.
The monkeys of Vrindavan are now renowned for their “high” taste. They snatch expensive cameras and dark glasses. In November last year, as President Pranab Mukherjee planned a visit to Vrindavan, he was warned of the menace monkeys could cause. Langoors were deployed to chase away the rhesus monkeys during the presidential visit.
Only recently, mahant Lal Baba, 75, of Madhav Kunj died after falling off a terrace while being chased by monkeys.
“The monkey population in Mathura district, which includes Goverdhan, Radha Kund, Gokul and Barsana, is estimated to be more than 10,000. Many of these animals have now become aggressive. Mathura MP Hema Malini has raised the concern, writing to government departments seeking sterilization of the monkeys. Nothing, however, has been done so far to contain the population of monkeys,” said Abhishek Sharma, who works with an NGO.
Sharma explained that the monkey population was growing even as the green cover has been steadily shrinking, causing a loss of their natural habitat. With the shortage of food in the concrete jungles that these animals now inhabit, they rummage through garbage dumps and grow aggressive with the pangs of hunger, Sharma said.
District magistrate Rajesh Kumar told TOI the administration was still grappling with ways to deal with the monkey menace.
Courtesy : TOI