A majority of senior citizens who spoke at an interactive session organized by the Chennai Police here on Friday accused autorickshaw drivers of charging excess fare and not using meters. Listing out various difficulties faced by them on the road and living locality, the participants urged the police to intervene and take appropriate action to make their life easy and secure.

Elaborating some of the problems faced by senior citizens, K. Radhakrishnan, Director, Dignity Foundation, said some parents were forced by their children to sign documents transferring property into their names. “A common problem is that children do not allow parents or elders to sit in the living room in the evening…they are often confined to their rooms. Some are not given food on time.” Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

Referring a case where an aged woman was locked up in a room by her son-in-law at Abiramapuram recently, Mr. Radhakrishnan said the woman’s son who came from Mumbai was not allowed to see her. “We took the assistance of the police to rescue the 85-year-old woman who was lying on the floor crying unstoppably. He (the accused) was demanding Rs. 5 lakh ransom for her release. Police helped in taking prompt action.” he added.

He said pedestrian platforms were often encroached upon by vendors and shopkeepers forcing people to walk on the roads. “It is difficult to travel in buses. The only alternative is to take an autorickshaw and they (the drivers) charge us exorbitantly,” he said.

Probus Club president, S. Krishnaram Davey said wrong parking made it difficult for senior citizens to move their cars in many residential areas particularly T. Nagar. There should be a forum for the senior citizens to air their grievances.

Retired Professor of History, Balammal said traffic should be managed taking into consideration the requirements of elders. Urging the Police Commissioner to form a Senior Citizens’ Coordination Committee, she beneficiaries faced problems in getting Old Age Pension.

Another speaker alleged that motorcyclists were indulging in racing in the Besant Nagar area. Traffic congestion was caused in residential pockets due to shooting of films and television serials. Chain-snatching incidents were occurring almost daily and it had become unsafe for women to go out for shopping or temples after 7 p.m, she said.

Bhajan Lal of Dignity Foundation appealed to the police to take it up with the insurance companies for extending health coverage for senior citizens, particularly those above 70 years of age.

Winding up the session, Commissioner of Police, T. Rajendran said, the Chennai Police had been trying to reach out various sections of the people in the recent weeks. Separate meetings were held with academicians, IT professionals, industrialists and others. “When it comes to senior citizens, our concern is primarily confined to physical safety. Many parents are lodging complaints that their children deserted them after taking over the property. They seek asylum…we feel helpless sometimes but it makes us feels good that they have confidence in the police.” Mr. Rajendran said.

Mr. Rajendran said complaints of autorickshaw drivers playing without meters and charging excess fare would be specifically looked into. A police official would be nominated as nodal officer to work with voluntary organisations serving the needs of senior citizens.

“We will depute a policeman at the Probus Club to receive complaints/suggestions from senior citizens. It would be open for all elderly persons in Chennai to avail the service. Steps would be taken to extend the facilities of Child Helpline ‘1098’ extended to senior citizens as well,” he said.

On parking of vehicles, Mr. Rajendran said about 32 lakh vehicles were playing in the city and they had to be parked in some place. “An average of 200 new vehicles is registered each day. We need some mechanism to stop the increasing number of vehicles on the roads.” he added.

Explaining the various modus operandi of criminals, he asked senior citizens not to entertain strangers who might come in some guise. “I would request you to keep in touch with your local police Inspector or Sub-Inspector. Instructions have been given to display the contact numbers of officers, including the jurisdiction Deputy Commissioner of Police.” he added.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Headquarters), M. Ravi, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), M. Shakeel Akhter were among others who spoke.

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