Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rising Crimes Against Senior Citizens3.doc

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This is the best article I have read on crimes against senior citizens. Written by Sri RN Mital. 

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Rising Crimes Against Senior Citizens

By R.N.Mital

Introduction - I like to bring to your notice a recent development where under 

the patronage of UNO the Help Age International undertook a study of the 

comparative well being of the Elderly in different countries. They selected 91 

countries for which data was available with them. 13 indicators were identified 

which define to a great extent the well being of Senior Citizens such as social and 

financial security, health care, shelter and emotional happiness etc.

Afganistan was found to be at the lowest rung of the ladder, on top were Norway 

and Sweden, China was found at level 35.

Where do you think our Country was found to be. You may be expecting that India 

would be near the top being the one where traditions enjoin us to honour our 

elders, respect them, venerate them. It is the land where idols like Shravan Kumar 

were born. 

But unfortunately now the ground realities are very different. You will be 

disappointed to know that we were ranked almost at the bottom, close to 

Afganistan, at level 73. Even Countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam were 

much higher than our Country. Sri Lanka was among the top 4 in SE Asia, Japan 

being at no 10, at the top.

Thus friends a lot more has to be done in our Country if we want to see that our 

Elders can spend their twilight years in reasonable comfort, 

Unprecedented Phenomenon – You know that India is ageing and ageing 

very fast. It is a phenomenon which is unprecedented in human history. The 

population of senior citizens has increased from around 2 crores in 1951 to more 

than 10 crores in 2013. The major reasons for this fast increase is the sharp 

increase in the life span and declining fertility. In fact this is the only segment of 

society which is growing larger and larger and getting poorer and poorer. 

Today the poorest among the poor is a senior citizen. An old man competing with 

street dogs and rummaging through dust bins for food crumbs outside a hotel is 

not an uncommon sight. 

The reduction in fertility level, reinforced by a steady increase in life expectancy, 

has produced fundamental changes in the age structure of the population. This 

fact has exposed the senior citizens to various problems such as age related 

poverty and health problems, elder abuse, social isolation etc.

Indifference towards Issues of Elderly - Unfortunately there has been an 

indifference both on part of the media and the Government towards the issues 

which arise due to the ageing of the population. As a result, according to a survey 

70% Senior Citizens belong to BPL category or close to it and live in villages, of 

whom 66% are so poor that they can not afford even two square meals a day. 

Most being illiterate, have to depend on physical labour for living. There is no 

retirement age for them

Most of the States are cold towards their plight, and have not implemented 

even the half-hearted welfare schemes launched by Centre. I will give you a few 


14 years have passed since the launch of NPOP 1999, only 10 State/UT’s have 

fully or partly accepted it and not even one has so far fully implemented it. 71% of 

the senior citizens are deprived of the benefits of the Policy

MWPSC Act - 6 years old and only 20 States out of 35 have so far formed the 

rules under it and 9 have actually operationalised it. No publicity is given to the 

provisions in the Act though Planning Commission has earmarked Rs 200 Crore 

for this purpose in the 12th Five year Plan.

In 2007 the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme was launched under 

which Rs 200 are supposed to be paid to every BPL senior citizen and at least 

same amount was expected to be added by the State. Firstly this amount is so 

ridiculously small that it can not buy even a cup of tea daily still 5 major States do 

not add even a rupee and 11 States add much less than the minimum expected 

from them. Above all as per the surveys done it is only 22% of the eligible who 

get any amount under this scheme.

I can go on citing examples of indifference shown by the authorities and the 

media towards the looming crisis created by the fast ageing population. In fact 

more important is to take cognizance of the emerging social problems caused due 

to to this negligence and indifference, one of them is the rising crimes and acts 

of cruelty against the older persons.

Unfortunately acts of violence against them are generally under recognized and 

under reported. 

Developing Tragic Situation - This tragic situation has arisen because timely 

action was not taken to face the consequences of a fast ageing population. 

Most of those suffering today with financial insecurity are those who during 

their productive age worked as landless farm labourers, casual workers in 

Construction Industry and other underpaid jobs such as domestic help etc. They 

thus are the retirees of the unorganized sector of our economy where wages are 

so low that one can not think of saving for old age, where there are no retirement 

benefits and old age pension, though they represent 84% of the total labour 

force and contribute more than 60% of the GDP.

With increasing lifespan there are many households where three or four 

generations live under the same roof. Very often members belonging to the third 

or fourth generation are so old that they are unable to contribute financially and 

even physically to the family. They often suffer with terminal diseases and may 

be disabled. They thus become a burden on the family. Many families particularly 

those belonging to the low income group find it difficult to maintain them and 

therefore, sometimes they try to get rid of them..

Statistics show that the acts of violence and cruelty against senior citizens are 

increasing They include ill treatment by the family members and caregivers by 

way of denying basic facilities, denying food, medical attention, beating or even 

sexual misbehaviour. This may even lead to the extreme act of cruelty that is 

torture and even abandonment. They are also highly vulnerable to the antisocial 

elements and acts of assault, robbery and even murder are frequent.

Murders - According to NCRB 32,496 senior citizens were murdered during 2001 

to 2010. But for a little decline for a brief period in 2002 the number of murders 

again went up to more than 3200 per year and are increasing every year. 3823 

older persons were murdered during 2012 with Uttar Pradesh (493) topping 

the States. In our National capital, Delhi around 40% more senior citizens were 

murdered during 2012 compared to previous year. 

Suicides among Elderly - The situation becomes more alarming by the fact that 

according to a study in USA senior citizens run the higher risk of committing 

suicide. Earlier it was the teenagers who were considered to be more prone to 

this risk. In USA though the Senior Citizens, that is 65+, account for 13% of the 

population, yet the suicides in this age group amount to 20% of the national 


I could not find in the data published by NCRB any reference connecting suicide 

rate with age but I feel convinced that the observation in USA must be true for 

India also, particularly because the wellbeing of elders in USA is rated much 

higher than in our Country. USA is placed in the Global rating at level 9 against 73 

for India 

However, this inference is largely confirmed by a report that in Mumbai for every 

senior citizen murdered in the city there are more than six elderly citizens who 

take their own life. 

Abandonment - According to The Hindu on an average 2 senior citizens are found 

abandoned daily in Chennai alone. There is a practice in some communities in 

rural areas of Tamil Nadu under which the elderly when he or she becomes very 

old and a burden on the family, is given an oil bath and given tadi to drink which 

throws him into a coma. He is then taken to a temple, a hospital or a similar place 

and abandoned in the hope that some kind hearted philanthropist will find him.

The report that a few thousand elders were found abandoned during the Kumbh 

Mela last year in Allahabad (UP) is only a proof of this situation existing specially 

in the low income group of families

Torture for Property - The second major reason which encourages abuse against 

the elderly is the greed of the caregivers or the relatives with whom the elder 

may be living or on whom the elder may be dependent. According to a survey by 

Help Age 52.49% elders in Mumbai are tortured for property. They are neglected, 

insulted, beaten, denied food and medical aid to force them to part with their 

assets and property. They are sometimes even thrown out of the house and 

subjected to inhuman treatment.

There have been worst cases of cruelty committed against the elderly to usurp 

their assets. Recently in Andhra Pradesh an unemployed young man killed his 

old father to get his job in Railways on compassionate grounds! 

These are not isolated examples but represent an emerging social problem which 

has to be tackled and controlled before it gets out of hand.

Crimes by anti-social elements - Another major reason behind this scenario is 

the lax law and order situation and the fact that the elderly are considered as soft 

targets particularly those living alone or only with their spouse. The anti social 

elements take advantage of this situation because they know that they will not 

be able to resist. According to NCRB data during 2001 – 10, 32,496 account for 

85% of the crimes against the elderly , are related to murder, 3206 to assault 

not amounting to murder and 2630 were relating to kidnapping. It may be noted 

that major part of the crime resulted in murder which has created a sense of fear 

among the senior citizens living alone.

The figures show 7% increase every year in the number of elderly victims of 

various crimes. Burglary is the most commonly reported crime against elders. 

Many burglary attempts end up in murder. 

What should be done - The big question is what should be done to see that this 

rampant evil is controlled. 

There are four major stake-holders in this situation

• The senior citizens themselves

• Police and law & order enforcing authorities

• Government / law makers

• Neighbours and Senior Citizens’ Associations(SCA’s)

The senior citizens who are fearing crime against them can play an important 

role in protecting themselves. They should remain socially active and in touch 

with other senior citizens in the neighborhood.

They should not avoid reporting to Police/Authorities and neighbours/local 

SCA if they are being ill treated or their rights are being violated 

The responsibility for protecting the elderly from the abuse of the above 

type is that of Police. The Home Ministry has recently directed the State 

Governments [Ref. Economic Times dtd Sept. 08, 2013] to ensure safety of 

senior citizens and prepare plans to face current and future challenges for 

their protection. Other directions are,

• Prepare database of older persons living alone.

• Identify crime prone areas

• Each Police station should have security scheme for the protection of 

the Elderly. They should provide patrolling both during day and night.

• Hold rich senior citizens as most vulnerable and ensure security 

• Ensure that beat staff along with community or NGO members regularly 

• Senior Police Officers should periodically interact with senior citizens, 

clearance of their staff.

visit the residences of senior citizens living alone.

set up special cell for them, monitor their safety besides setting up 24x7 

toll free help line. 

We have seen above that the crimes are committed particularly in disadvantaged, 

socio-economically weak families because the elderly become a burden when 

they become disabled or terminally sick and are unable to contribute both 

monetarily and physically. To make them acceptable the introduction of following 

welfare schemes should be considered,

• Adequate Universal social pension. It should be recognized as a right and 

not a dole and should flow out if article 21 and not 41 of our Constitution.

• Comprehensive Health Insurance for all senior citizens covering terminal 

diseases and disability.

• State Governments should be asked to build in each district Old Age 

Homes with a minimum capacity of 150 inmates as mandated in the MWPSC 

Act. The District Authorities must see that elders whom their families are 

genuinely unable to maintain, are shifted to such Old Age Homes. 

In addition to the above the MWPSC Act should be made more stringent for those 

who do not look after their elders. Violence against them should be made non-
bailable, non-compoundable and a cognizable offence as in case of the Domestic 

Violence or Dowry Prevention section 498A of IPC, or the Act for prevention of 

atrocities against SC/ST.

The demand for adequate social pension is picking up. Its introduction will 

mitigate many of the problems which BPL senior citizens face during the fag end 

of their lives. They are generally the retirees from the unorganized sector of our 

economy which though contributes 60% of the GDP, yet pays poor wages and has 

no retirement benefits or pension. Many other countries, some with even weaker 

economy have already introduced it. 

Moreover, a study by the Planning Commission has shown that we could have 

wiped out poverty in our country by transferring cash to the BPL families at a 

much lower cost than the amount which we are now spending on the anti poverty 


Finally the neighbours and the senior citizens’ organizations can be of immense 

help in protecting them from such cruelties. It is essential that we build social 

relations with senior citizens in families in our area particularly with those who 

are exposed to such risks. Friendly social contacts will discourage the caregivers 

and anti- social elements from committing violence against them.

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