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Monday, September 24, 2012

‘Adopt’ the elderly, Patil tells cops

Home Minister Promises To Take Responsibility For A Senior Citizen Himself

Mumbai: The growing number of crimes against senior citizens in Mumbai, six of them till September this year alone, has again highlighted the epidemic of loneliness in the financial capital. Under attack for his department's failure to make the city safer for the elderly, home minister R R Patil has now proposed that every policeman—from the commissioner to the constable—"adopt" one senior citizen in their jurisdiction. 
    Patil himself has taken assured that he too will "adopt" or take on the responsibility of one senior citizen. "The people in uniform (police) should meet elderly citizens in their jurisdiction and have regular dialogues with them. The practice will not only reduce crime against senior citizens, but also enable them to learn of the problems faced by the elderly. The initiative will help in overcoming the loneliness faced by people (senior citizens) whose children are living far away from them," Patil said. 
    Patil made Monday's announcement while inaugurating a renovated police chowky at Girgaum Chowpatty. However, earlier in April this year, Patil had admitted in the state legislature that crime against senior citizens was on the rise in Mumbai. According to home department records, four citizens were killed in 2010 and the number rose to seven in 2011. This year, six cases were recorded till September. Patil had then said that police officials have been asked to 
create a database of senior citizens living in their jurisdiction, meet them regularly and hand them a list of dos and don'ts. The scheme has not been able to do much to prevent crimes against senior citizens. 
    While Patil's idea, if properly implemented, might bring relief for the city's elderly, several political experts said that the home minister's announcement is nothing but a damage control exercise. "For the last couple of months, Patil and his department are under fire for 'poor performance'. Patil's directives to "adopt" senior citi
zens is seen as home minister's damage control exercise," a retired bureaucrat said. 
    It is learnt that NCP chief Sharad Pawar recently summoned Patil to Delhi for the home department's failure to tackle the Naxal issue. Not just Pawar, but for the past few months, Patil is under fire from within the ruling Congress-NCP combine. Even the Opposition has been demanding Patil's resignation over the August 11, 2012, mayhem in South Mumbai. 
    Mumbai police have a separate helpline for senior citizens. The elderly can either call on 103 (special senior citizen helpline) or on 1090 to lodge a complaint. 

Times View: Act on this proposal 
We just hope that this is not one more of those promises that politicians come up with when confronted with a difficult situation. For, the situation in Mumbai now is difficult, at least for its citizens. Mobs can just take over the business district for a couple of hours. You can be robbed at any time of the day; and whether you are at home or on a busy street does not make any difference to criminals. The elderly, particularly, have been at the receiving end, ending up as victims of one grisly crime after another. The home minister's proposal, if implemented with honesty, can instil a lot of confidence in senior citizens. The only question is whether the force has this honesty of purpose.


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