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Safe sunset years a distant dream for Goans

Panaji: The recent case of an elderly couple being robbed at knifepoint at Guirdolim has brought the focus back on the issue of safety of senior citizens in Goa, which has the second highest proportion of senior citizen population in the country.

Senior citizens said interaction with police has been missing. Convener of the Chorao Civic and Consumer Forum, Esperance Rodrigues, who took the initiative to set up a senior citizens cell on the island, said quarterly meetings between police and senior citizens would go a long way in reassuring those living by themselves. “The police can use these meetings to make them aware about safety measures to better protect themselves,” she said, adding that this would help bring down crimes against senior citizens.

In 2016, the state recorded five murders out of a total of 43 crimes against senior citizens, down from 59 and 73 crimes in 2015 and 2014, respectively.
Convener of Goa Consumer Action Network Roland Martins, too, said senior citizens needed to be taken into confidence. “If senior citizen volunteer committees were set up at each panchayat and municipality, it would ensure regular contact between them and police,” he said.

“These committees could raise issues faced by senior citizens at gram sabhas and work with police to ensure that they carry out tenant verification and assist them in preparing a database of all senior citizens in the area,” he said.

The Goa Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules, 2009, mandates that each police station maintain an up-to-date list of senior citizens living by themselves where a police station representative along with a social worker or volunteer is expected to visit them at “regular intervals of at least once a month”.

“At least one volunteer committee formed for each police station is expected to ensure regular contact between senior citizens and police and district administration,” the rules state.

Rodrigues says despite the senior citizens cell proactively collecting registration forms from the police station, getting them filled, and submitting them at the police station, beat police are yet to visit the homes of the elderly living alone in Chorao. President of the All Goa Senior Citizens Federation, Diogo M da Costa, said the act and its rules remain on paper. “The act hasn’t been a success. The registers with all crimes against senior citizens are not available for public inspection.

Each police station is supposed to send monthly reports of such crimes to the district superintendent of police by the tenth of each month, but this is not happening,” he said, adding that beat police are also not making regular visits to homes of senior citizens.

The district superintendent of police is expected to submit the monthly reports on the status of crime and progress in investigation to the director general of police and to the district magistrate along with preventive steps taken during the month.

The Dos and Don’ts to be followed by senior citizens in the interest of their safety are also not widely publicized by the police.

Activist for senior citizens Rajan Ghate has put forth a demand to the government for two separate district police stations to cater to the needs of senior citizens. He has also written to the government asking for a commission to be set up that will monitor the implementation of the act and ensure timely justice to senior citizens. Another of his demands is making all offences against senior citizens a non-bailable offence. [TOI]

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