A survey conducted by Mumbai police after the recent surge in crimes against senior citizens has thrown up an unsettling fact — the elderly are at greater risk of being harmed by those they know than strangers. It concludes that in most of the recent murders of senior citizens, the killers were either the kin, rivals, domestic help or acquaintances.
“Our study dispels the myth that the elderly have suddenly become vulnerable to plunderers or bloodthirsty criminals,” said joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy, who ordered the survey after a high-power meeting held last week to review the security of senior citizens, in wake of the rise in crimes against them.
To buttress the point, Roy said, “In the case of Sarla Patel (who was murdered in her Malad home on Friday), the killers turned out to be her grandson and his friend who was also known to the family since long.”
The study reveals that since January, 12 senior citizens have been killed in 11 incidents. Of them, the police have solved eight cases, and in all but one, the killers were known to victims.
Roy said that even in the lone case, the motive was traced back to the kin. On March 19, Aangara Aaitu Pujari, 75, a cake shop owner, was shot dead at Goregaon. The police later arrested Mukesh Sharma, a history-sheeter, for carrying out the killing. His interrogation revealed that of Pujari’s two sons, one was a member of the Ashwin Naik gang, while the other was also a criminal.
It was subsequently learnt that a long-standing property dispute between the father and his sons led to the contract killing.
Moreover, in one of the three unsolved cases, too, the police suspect that the killers are domestic help. “Bharati Kapurchand Shah, 74, was murdered in her flat at Juhu on September 12. We have strong reasons to believe that the killers are her help who have gone missing after the incident,” Roy said.
The murders of Matunga resident Tabita Fonseka, 85, and Vikhroli housewife Lalita Kamble, 55, remain unsolved and the police are yet clueless about the identities of the killers.