The neglect or ill-treatment of aged parents at the hands of their children is no longer a shocking thing. Not when many people are going so far as to kill their parents out of greed for property or just to get out of looking after them in their old age.
Andhra Pradesh has in the recent past seen a spurt in such cases. The last three months saw at least two incidents where the son left his ailing mother to die.
On February 2, 75-year-old Seera Padmavathi of Gajuwaka, who has been suffering from cancer for quite some time, was admitted in the intensive care unit at King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam after developing complications. Her condition improved after two days and the doctors discharged her from the hospital. But instead of taking her home, her relatives - all of them financially well-off - hired an autorickshaw and drove her straight to the cremation ground. She was apparently administered sedatives before being taken there.
Making a public show of grief, they performed the last rites and placed her on a pyre. Fortunately for her, as her only son prepared to light the fire, she opened her eyes. The workers at the cremation checked her and found her to be alive. Taking advantage of the commotion she caused, her family members quietly slipped out.
"We got the information that a woman had been taken for cremation, though she had not expired. Our sub-inspector went there, found that the woman was not dead and advised her relatives to take her back to the hospital. We understand that she was subsequently discharged from the hospital and is now staying with her son Srinivas," Vishakapatnam Commissioner of Police VSK Kaumidi told HT.
A similar case was reported from Pachikapalem village in Chitoor in November. Parvathamma, 76, was taken straight from hospital to the burial ground by her eldest son and left there to die. "Inform me when she passes away so I can come and do the rituals," he told the cremation ground staff and left without a backward glance.
Some good samaritans nearby feared Parvathamma may be harmed by vultures and jackals and erected a tent over her and gave her some milk and food. They informed the police, who shifted her to a hospital in Tirupati where she passed away after 10 days. The police have booked a case against her relatives.
"This is happening because the joint family system has completely broken down and children consider parents to be an unwanted burden," said psychiatrist Dr Sekhar. A senior police official told HT the actual number of such cases could be higher as few of them are reported.
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