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Alone and unsafe live Capital’s elders

delhi Updated: May 30, 2011 02:38 IST
Jatin Anand
Jatin Anand
Hindustan Times
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Seventy-year-old Ramesh Kapoor and his wife Rama (65) became the latest victims of the Capital's palpable apathy for its old, ill and consequently presumed useless, inhabitants.

According to Prabhakar, deputy commissioner of police (east), the ailing senior citizen couple's post-mortem examination has revealed no apparent injury marks, either external or internal, suggested no foul play. Their bodies were recovered from their two-storey residence in east Delhi's Mandawali on Saturday.

However, as far as senior citizens are concerned, Saturday's gory discovery has reiterated one hard fact about residing in the city: no one, especially Delhi Police despite its claims, cares about the city's senior citizen population — now estimated to be somewhere close to 11 lakh.

"Senior citizens are being targeted almost on a daily basis. The Delhi Police keeps making tall claims but cites lack of manpower when it comes to ensuring that those (senior) citizens registered with them are visited at least once a week," said JR Gupta, chairperson of the Confederation of Senior Citizen Associations of Delhi. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/290511/30_05_11_pg02a.jpg

Gupta, who in vain requested Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta to grace a function aiming to create a campaign to ensure safety of senior citizens through special workshops to groom beat staff in February this year, believes an average police constable lacks the necessary sensitivity required to deal with an ill, irritable and lonely retiree.

His contention, it seems, is a fact that senior citizens residing in the Capital have made their peace with. A fact that in light of data available with the police (see box) reveals that senior citizens have, gradually though evidently, stopped approaching the police for help.

"While we had only 8,890 senior citizens on our roster till the end of year 2009, it went up to 9,769 till the end of 2010. In five months this year, the number has gone up to approximately 11,500," claimed a senior Delhi Police officer. The Kapoors, too, were registered with the police.

How far entering names in a register contributes towards making the vulnerable feel safe can be ascertained from the fact that, as opposed to 312 distress calls received (and apparently attended) from senior citizens in 2009, only 194 such calls were made throughout 2010.

"At least 13 senior citizens had complained of harassment and seven requests to settle a landlord-tenant dispute had been received in 2009. We received zero complaints in either category till the end of 2010," admitted the officer.

On their part, field officers often complain that most 'distress calls' from senior citizens stem for the need for trivial assistance, such as fetching grocery items and/or medicines from the market. Despite that, field officers claim, compliance is assured.

"We have initiated an intensive drive and identified more than 2000 such senior citizens and registered them. Field staff constantly remains in touch with them,” said additional DCP and Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat.