CHENNAI: Sometimes it just for two sovereigns of gold or even just `10,000. This is what for senior citizens who stays alone in the city gets killed for.
The recent murder of renowned psychotherapist Dr Emma Gonsalvez (82), supposedly to rob valuables when she was alone in her apartment, has come as a reminder that the city is still far from being a safe place for senior citizens.
Josephine Muthu (68), Thirupurasundari (65) and Pandiammal (55) were some of senior citizen women who were murdered in the city in the last 10 months by men who wanted to make a quick buck by targeting gullible victims. A striking coincidence in all the cases is that all were staying alone, which of course made them easy targets.
The list will get much lengthier if one scans the files of the city police further. But police officers say much of their role comes into force only after the crime is committed, in tracing the accused and bringing him to justice. Prevention is as much in the hands of the senior citizens and their care takers.
“The general public’s anger when such crimes take place is towards the police. But the fact is, these incidents take place in a closed space inside a house. Police patrolling and other measures will only help to an extent, not always. Simple steps like having an additional grill door in houses where elderly people will be alone can go a long way in acting as a deterrent for criminals,” says a senior police officer.
Another area which the city police have been stressing is the private companies that send their employees to visit houses of its customers or clients. In the case of Thirupurasundari, who was murdered last August in her house at JJ Nagar, the police found it was a technician sent by a telecom company who developed the idea of killing the elderly woman to loot the 15 sovereigns of gold jewellery that she was wearing. In the recent murder of Emma Gonsalvez too, the prime suspect is a TV mechanic who was sent by a company.
“After the JJ Nagar murder, we even explored the possibility of charging the company with negligence as its agent was involved in the crime. But we couldn’t do so as legal opinion went against it. We will certainly do it if in similar cases it emerges that the agent sent by the company has a previous criminal history and the company failed to do proper background checking,” says another city police officer.
The officer adds that small precautions like not exhibiting the presence of gold jewels or valuables in the house often turn away criminals. “But wanting to wear jewellery even in presence of strangers often ends up as a trap,” the officer says.