It took three murders in the past 20 days for the Mumbai police to realise that they needed to revive the helpline for the elderly.
Only half a dozen senior citizens have registered with the police helpline, Elderline (1090), in the past eight months. The reason fore the low number, the police claims, is lack of publicity and awareness.
On September 15, HT had reported about how hardly any senior citizens had registered with the helpline in the current year, as compared to the nearly 39,000 persons registered between 2006 and 2011.
Policemen claim that they now have plans to re-establish the helpline, which was launched in 2006 to provide assistance to the elderly.
“The registrations are at an all time low ever since Elderline was launched in 2006. With a change in guard at the top, and the spate of senior citizen murders, we have been told to take steps to revive the helpline,” said a senior police officer, on condition of anonymity.
According to the officer, earlier they would conduct awareness drives and sensitisation campaigns run to encourage senior citizens to come forward and register.
“Publicity acts like oxygen for such initiatives. But, in the past year there have been no campaigns undertaken by the police. This is clear in the number of people registering with Elderline,” he explained.
As part of the revival plan, the police are looking at approaching societies and asking them to register senior citizens with Elderline. Also, they plan to take help of NGOs that work with the elderly.
When questioned about the infrastructure, the officer said, “Currently we have the necessary means to handle the 25 calls we receive per day on an average. Our first task will be to start the awareness campaign. Once the registrations go up, we will decide on what needs to be done.”
Mumbai police spokesperson DCP Nisar Tamboli said, “The senior citizen helpline is already functional and necessary steps are being taken to encourage registrations.”