India's sudden demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes has adversely affected hundreds of Bangladeshi citizens who had come to India for medical treatment, media reported.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a televised address on Tuesday announced that the high value currency notes will not be legal tender from November 8 midnight onwards, to curb the menace of black money and corruption.
But the decision has adversely impacted Bangladeshi patients in India, either already under treatment or seeking the same, bdnews24 reported.
Relatives of such patients said they had exchanged Bangladesh currency or US dollars for high value Indian currency like 1,000 or 500 rupees because large amounts are needed for treatment which is easy to handle with high value notes.
"But now these notes are not accepted by any private hospitals, where our patients are admitted," said Sheikh Mansur Ali from Bangladesh's Jessore district, whose brother is being treated for kidney problems at a hospital in Kolkata.
"The hospital says they will only take 100 rupee notes. I have only a few of them," Mansur added.
Since Mansur had deposited a hefty advance for his brother's treatment, the hospital is continuing the treatment.
"But I am worried when the hospital gives me the final bill," he said.
But for Saima Sharmin it was an unhappy experience. Sharmin, who was in Kolkata for her chemotherapy at a private hospital, had to return home without any treatment since the Tata Cancer Hospital refused to provide her treatment in exchange for the old Indian currency notes.
"I am suffering from cancer…I am in urgent need of chemotherapy. My chances of survival depend on the treatment that I receive periodically," she said.
"The hospital is demanding 100 rupee notes but I could only exchange Bangladesh's currency for 500 and 1,000 notes. I had to return home without being treated," she was quoted as telling a TV channel, bdnews24 reported.
Like Sharmin, several Bangladeshi nationals had to either return home or look for other options to avail treatment.
While the Indian government has asked hospitals to accept the demonetized 500 and 1,000 currency notes until this weekend, only the state-run hospitals are doing so.
Private hospitals and nursing homes are turning down patients who cannot pay for the treatment in denomination of Rs 100 or lower.
Thousands of Bangladeshis come to India every year for not only advanced medical treatment but also for routine check-ups.
(With IANS inputs)