Recently, members of Dignity Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, were accused of forging a power of attorney over the property of H.S. Wadia (89) and withdrawing Rs 1.24 lakh from his account. A chargesheet is expected soon in the case.
On February 23, a senior citizen in Bandra was robbed of cash and valuables worth Rs 1 lakh by her domestic help. Ayesha Khan (35) was a maid at Mona Hiranandani’s (74) house. When Hiranandani was out, Khan opened her cupboard and stole $200 (Rs 9,000) and jewellery and fled. Khan was not traced as Hiranandani had not registered her details with Elderline, a helpline for senior citizens.
MUMBAI: Hiranandani is one of the estimated 10 lakh senior citizens in Mumbai, of whom over 9.6 lakh have not registered with the helpline (Tel No 1090) launched by the police in 2006. Of the 37,023 who have registered, many have not registered their domestic help or ‘service providers’ — milkmen, laundry boys, newspaper vendors, etc. Only 480 domestic employees and service providers were registered till May 17.
More than 4 lakh senior citizens live alone in Mumbai, and they are particularly vulnerable to crime. Non-governmental organisation workers said that in the past decade, 188 senior citizens have been killed. In 2009 alone, more than 30 seniors were victims of robbery and murder; most of these crimes were committed by the domestic help or service providers.
“Seniors’ safety can only be ensured after they register their domestic staff and their service providers,” said Police Inspector Firoz Patel, who is in charge of Elderline.
Police officers said the number of seniors registering themselves rose only after the launch of the website Hamarisuraksha.com in September 2009. Patel said this was because of the wide reach of the Internet and the simple registration process.
But the website has not helped raise the registration of service providers and domestic staff.
A large chunk of seniors’ registrations come from southern and western Mumbai. Within five days of the website’s launch, in Malabar Hill alone 1,200 seniors registered; the number from the central and eastern regions was only 200. Police said this was because southern and western Mumbai have more educated senior citizens and more who stay alone.
However, most domestic employees refuse to get registered as they fear they would automatically become suspects in case of a crime.