BENGALURU: About 40% of calls received by the Elders’ Helpline in the city were about abuse perpetrated by family members, including children. Property-related disputes are the biggest contributors to elderly abuse, shows a study.
The helpline (1090), set up as a joint venture by Nightingales Medical Trust and Bengaluru City Police, received 64,455 calls (389 related to property issues) between April 2017 and May 2022.
With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to be observed on June 15, helpline operators expect to create more awareness on issues plaguing senior citizens. Besides abuse by family members, property-related problems caused due to conflict between senior citizens and third-parties were also common among the complaints landing at the helpline. Details of some of the cases fetched by TOI confirmed third-party involvement.
“It is tiresome to fight,” said Chandran KNP, 67, who has been pursuing a case against alleged encroachers who sold a piece of land owned by him and now have encroached it. “It has been six years since I began the legal battle. I have no fear because I have everything to prove that the land belongs to me, but some neighbours in the area have managed to sell it and are consuming my time and energy at this stage of my life,” he said.
About 80% of the complaints were related to abuse in the form of demand for money or property, harassment, neglect, ill-treatment, cheating, and exploitation.
The city is home to roughly 9 lakh senior citizens and the helpline has registered 2.35 lakh elderly callers from the time it became operational two decades ago. It shows 1 out of 4 senior citizens in Bengaluru feel endangered or threatened. Sivakumar K, 73, owner of a flat in Ulsoor, said his apartment’s common terrace has been encroached by the president and vice-president of the residents’ welfare association. Even after winning his case in the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal, the authorities have not followed the judgment that called for demolition of the encroached property.
“Because their illegally built structure is above mine, my house has suffered damage and leakage. The president threatens those who take a stand due to his position at a taxation office. I have tried my best to get the authorities to act on the court’s judgment but a BBMP employee has told me that his seniors are blocking the demolition,” Sivakumar alleged.
The helpline has reportedly resolved 60% of the complaints it has received. “We first attempt at mediation and call both the parties to the office of a legal professional to reach a settlement. If those efforts go in vain, the judiciary is approached,” Radha Murthy, managing trustee of Nightingales Medical Trust said.
Police intervention is also essential for resolving matters of physical abuse and extending emotional support to senior citizens. However, Sivakumar begged to question who will enforce the verdict of the court because in his case, even after winning the legal battle, he has not got justice.
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