April 5, 2011

INDIA: Spectre of goons haunts elders

KOLKATA, West Bengal / The Telegraph / Orissa / April 5, 2011

By Sandip Bal 


The Senior Citizen Security Cell of the city police is functioning for a year now but the capital’s elderly folk still remains vulnerable to criminal attacks.

What is worse, the special cell is supposed to take care of only those elderly citizens who stay alone. For the rest — those who stay in the company of their younger kin — there is no special help from the cops. This makes such elderly populace more vulnerable to attack by goons.

In one incident that took place on March 22, some goons barged into the house of 66-year-old Urmila Pattnaik in Sahid Nagar and forced her to sign papers related to the land she owns in the city.

The woman, who was alone at home, was so scared that she could not even raise an alarm. She meekly put her signature on the papers.

What happened to Urmila was not an isolated instance. On February 1, 62-year-old Puspalata Jena, a resident of the posh Baramunda HIG housing colony, was found murdered in her house. The killers struck when the woman was alone at home, her son and daughter-in-law having gone out for work and her granddaughter was in school.

Police said she was murdered by a youth who lived in the nearby slum and used to frequent the house to help her with household chores. He was later arrested.

Similarly, 60-year-old doctor Brahmananda Panda, who owned the Panda nursing home in Sriya Square, was killed by one of his former employees on July 27 last year. Dr. Panda was staying alone as his son and daughter were working outside the state.

In Urmila’s case she was alone in her house at noon as her husband had gone to his village and her son and daughter-in-law were also not at home. Three persons barged into the house.

“While two stood at the gate, one came to me and showed me some papers. He was a burly and dangerous looking man. Identifying himself as our lawyer he asked me to sign these papers, which, he claimed, was to be filed in the court. When I refused, the other two came up to me and started threatening me. Out of fear I signed the papers without even looking at them,” said Urmila. Later she informed her husband who lodged a complaint with the police the next day.

“We had purchased some plots of land in the Shampur area 29 years ago. Nearly two years ago, a dispute arose pertaining to this property as the person from whom we had bought the land claimed that he did not sell it to us. A case has been going on in the court in this regard. These goons might have been hired by the previous owner of the land or a builder who is interested in the property,” said Suresh Chandra Pattnaik, Urmila’s husband.

The complaint lodged by Suresh mentioned the name of the previous landowner and the builder concerned. “The police have assured to take necessary steps in this regard,” added the elderly man.

Police commissioner B. K. Sharma said the city police have formed a Senior Citizen Security Cell to provide security to old people living in the city. At present the cell is working in 10 selected police stations. The objective of the cell is to ensure the safety and security of senior citizens. “The police have also been advising old people about the safety and security measures they should take.

They have also been asked to coordinate with the police in verifying the antecedents of domestic helps and tenants,” said Sharma.
Copyright © 2011 The Telegraph