Stampedes and scuffles in India as rupee banknotes withdrawn

There have been stampedes and scuffles breaking out in India as millions of people scramble to change old currency notes which have become worthless.

Long queues continue outside banks just a few days after the high-value notes were withdrawn by the government in a surprise announcement.

The country's 500 (£6) and 1,000 (£12) rupee notes will no longer be legal tender due to efforts to tackle corruption and tax evasion. 

Scuffles broke out in New Delhi after cash machines ran out of notes and anger is rising as banks struggle to dispense money.

Nearly half of the country's 202,000 ATMs were shut on Friday and those that operated quickly ran out of the new notes.

Paramilitary troops have been posted at some banks to try and keep order.

The government is replacing the banknotes with two new ones of 500 and 2,000-rupee denominations. 

The country's prime minister, Narendra Modi, said the old notes were being forged and used to pay for attacks by Islamist militants. 

Indians are being given until the last day of this year to change their old banknotes for the new ones. 

But they are only allowed to change 4,000 rupees per head each day, which is leading many to panic. 

Brahma Reddy, assistant professor with the Department of Economics, University of Delhi, says the banknote swap is a good thing. 

"In the next two weeks, there will be some inconvenience," he said.

"But this is going to have a very good, positive effect on the economy overall."

Hundreds of thousands of people are queuing for long hours trying to replace the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes.

The bills made up more than 80% of the currency in circulation leaving millions of people without cash.

Police said one woman has killed herself because she panicked her savings had become worthless and was scared she would be left penniless. 

Officers also said they had more than 3,000 emergency calls reporting fights in Delhi on Friday, and on Saturday they received nearly 200 calls in the first four hours after banks opened at 9am local time. 

The chaos is also threatening to grind large parts of the cash-driven economy to a halt.

Much of India's rural economy is powered by cash transactions with few people having bank accounts.

The central bank said there was enough cash available and arrangements were in place to deliver the new bank notes all over the country.

Official figures have shown circulation of current banknotes has outpaced the growth of India's economy. 

In the last five years, circulation of all rupee notes has grown 40% whereas Indian economy has increased 30%.